Para-Athletes victorious in their own rights

It was a tough road heading into Tokyo 2020 for the Para-Shooting team of Anton Zappelli, Natalie Smith, and Chris Pitt.

For Anton, living in Western Australia meant that with frequent border restrictions, a consistent schedule of domestic competitions was unattainable heading into the Games.

Natalie Smith revealed that the postponement of Tokyo 2020 was a blessing for her as she had to recover from a serious shoulder injury. An injury that unfortunately saw her unable to regain her top form before competing in Tokyo.

For Chris Pitt, it was an even larger battle as he was diagnosed with cancer last year. After hours in surgery with chemotherapy to follow, Chris battled to be in good health heading into Tokyo 2020.

Despite these challenges, the Team of 3 Para Shooting Athletes gave it their best shot!

Natalie Smith opened the Para-Shooting Team’s Tokyo 2020 Campaign when she competed in the R2 – Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event where she scored 609.1 to place 19th. Chris Pitt was up next in the P1 – Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 where he shot 542-3x to place 25th. The next day Anton Zappelli and Natalie Smith both competed in the R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1, where Anton scored 631.6 to place 15th, and Natalie Smith scored 621.7 to place 46th.

Chris Pitt then competed in the P3 – Mixed 25m Pistol SH1, where two unfortunate malfunctions resulted in him scoring 542-12x to place 25th. Finally on the last day of action, Anton Zappelli competed in the R6 Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1 event where he scored 616.0 to place 11th.

Their performances may not have been the best we’ve seen from this high-performing trio, but they should be proud nonetheless given the uncertainty surrounding the last two years; encompassing competitive and personal challenges

For athletes at this elite level, international competitions are a major part of their preparations. Due to Australian and International travel restrictions, the team had not competed internationally since the 2019 WSPS World Championships in Sydney, and the team agreed that international competition would have better prepared them for the Games.

As the athletes return home to begin their two-week quarantine, they can hold their heads high for having represented themselves and their country so well at yet  another Paralympic Games, proving they belong side by side with the best in the world.

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