Australia claimed three Tokyo Olympic Games shooting athlete quota positions when South Australian teenagers Alex Hoberg and Tori Rossiter and Victoria’s Elena Galiabovitch won Oceania Championship titles at the Sydney International Shooting Centre today.
The trio took giant steps towards fulfilling their Tokyo Games selection ambitions when winning the respective 10m Men’s and Women’s Air Rifle finals and the women’s 25m Women’s Pistol with Minimum Qualification Scores (MQS).
Coming into the Men’s 10m Air Rifle final ranked third, Hoberg displayed nerves of steel to claim an Oceania Junior record to narrowly defeat fellow South Australian Jack Rossiter by 1.1 points.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Dane Sampson rounded off an all-South Australian podium when taking the bronze medal ahead of the New Zealand trio of Owen Bennett, Adrian Black and Shaun Jeffery.
Hoberg, 17, has been identified a rising shooting athlete since winning selection for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where he was deprived of a medal after losing a shoot-off to India’s Ravi Kumar to be placed fourth.
The Wingfield Rifle Club shooter represented Australia at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Rio where he again narrowly missed a medal when placed fifth in the 10m Air Rifle.
Hoberg said he came into the Championship relaxed and confident of winning and claiming a Tokyo quota position for Australia.
“I had been shooting well in training, but I think I tried too hard in the qualification round. I kept telling myself that I could win and just do what I’ve been doing in training,” he said.
“Once I got into the lead after the first round in the final, my confidence rose and I managed to lead all the way,” he added.
“It’s a great relief to get a quota and I can now go into the 50m Three Position Rifle event on Thursday without any pressure,” he added.
Rossiter, 17, overcame a nervous start to overhaul Victoria’s Elise Collier and South Australia’s Emma Adams in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle . Her winning score was also a Oceania Senior and Junior record.
Rossiter managed 49.9 points after the first round and trailed Adams by 2.7 points.
“I realised I needed to pull my finger out, but I knew there was enough time to catch up. I knew if I could shoot at my best, that I could manage to win,” said Rossiter.
Like Hoberg, Rossiter represented Australia at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Rio Youth Olympics, where she finished fourth.
Rossiter’s next immediate priority are her Year 12 exams which begins at Adelaide’s Woodcroft College on Tuesday.
Galiabovitch appears destined for her second successive Olympic Games when comfortably winning the Women’s 25m Pistol final in another all-Australian medal clean sweep.
South Australia’s Alison Heinrich captured the silver medal after surviving a shoot-off with Queensland’s Civon Smith.
Galiabovitch, a Melbourne doctor, entered the final as the hot favourite and provided the best medicine from the outset with a perfect five from five shots in the opening round and was never headed.
“I happy with achieving a quota position – that was the goal. I tried to not fixate about getting the quota as it can become distracting. I just tried to focus on myself,” said Galiabovitch.
“I didn’t shoot as well as I had hoped, but I got the job done and, importantly, we got the quota position for Tokyo.” she added.
Tomorrow will see the the Men’s and Women’s Skeet finals plus the Men’s 10m Air Pistol.
The Oceania Championships will run from 1 – 9 November at the Sydney International Shooting Centre in Cecil Park NSW. More information is available on the event website. Shooting Australia Facebook and Twitter pages.
Greg Campbell – PRISM Strategics Communications