Australia completed a memorable event with Victorians Mitchell Iles and Sergei Evglevski both winning gold medals and achieving Tokyo Olympic Games quota positions on the last day of the Oceania Championship at the Sydney International Shooting Centre today.
The two quota positions will see Australia occupy 15 places across all disciplines at next year’s Tokyo Games.
Iles, a 2016 Rio Olympian, captured the gold medal and an Oceania Junior Record in the Men’s Trap shooting 43 of 50 targets to defeat team-mate Daniel Di Pietro (39 targets) with New Zealand’s Owen Bennett (29 targets) winning the silver and bronze medals.
Shooting in high winds and with intermittent cloud cover, Iles maintained his concentration and composure throughout the final after opening with two perfect rounds of five shots.
“I’m absolutely wrapped to win and get a quota position. That was the goal, but the conditions were very tough. The wind was strong and gusty, and the light was in and out,” said 20-year old Iles.
The biggest shock of the event was the early elimination of Australia’s 2004 Athens Olympic Games bronze medallist, Adam Vella.
Vella entered the final as the highest ranked shooter after the morning qualification round but was the first of six shooters to be eliminated.
In the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, Evglevski (30 points) was largely untroubled when winning gold with ACT’s Thomas Ashmore (22 points) and New Zealand’s Thomas Noble (15 points) winning the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Evglevski, 22, a silver medallist in the event at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, said he is now focused on the final Olympic selection trials in the New Year.
“I felt really comfortable in the final. I just concentrated on fulfilling all my technical aspects rather than worrying about my score and it worked well,” he said.
“I will go on a week’s holiday to Bali and then I will get back into full training leading into the selection trials,” he added.
The Championship ended on a high note for New Zealand with Natalie Rooney (37 targets) winning gold in the Women’s Trap when she defeated the Australian pair of Lisa Smith (33) and Breanna Collins (26).
Rooney, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games silver medallist behind Australia’s Catherine Skinner, held a one shot lead going into the final five shots and managed to hit four targets while Smith could only down one.
Prior to the Championships, Australian shooters Laetisha Scanlan and Penny Smith had claimed Tokyo Games quota positions in the Women’s Trap.
The Australian Olympic shooting team will be announced in March.
The Oceania Championships ran 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