Skinner’s Olympic gold medal defence remains alive

Catherine Skinner proved Olympic champions never lay down when surging back into Australian team selection for Tokyo Games when winning the third women’s trap nomination trial at the Melbourne Gun Club today.

Skinner, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games women’s trap gold medallist, slipped in the race for Australian team selection at the second nomination event in Newcastle in January, but today she proved she remains a world class trap athlete leading throughout the final to claim an important win.

Skinner ultimately shot 41 of 50 targets to edge aside fellow Victorians, Laetisha Scanlan (38) and Penny Smith (29).

Thanks to another world class qualifying score, Smith currently heads the race to claim one of Australia’s two women’s trap quota positions for the Tokyo Games.

Smith has tallied 364 points, 15 points ahead of Scanlan (348) with Skinner (345) just three points behind.

With the final nomination trial to be held at the Sydney International Shooting Centre on March 22, Australia’s second women’s trap position looms as a winner-take-all battle between Scanlan and Skinner.

“Penny Smith has been shooting fantastically and she’s got a very significant lead on us and I needed to pull something out to have a chance,” said Skinner.

In the third men’s trap nomination event, NSW’s James Willett (44 targets) continued his dominance when out-scoring Victoria’s Mitch Iles (41) and NSW’s Thomas Grice (31).

Willett and Iles couldn’t be separated for the first 30 of 50 targets, but Willett’s accuracy proved decisive over the final 20 targets.

Willett is certain to win selection for Tokyo with Iles and Grice battling for Australia’s second quota position.

In the men’s skeet, Queensland’s Paul Adams won a controversial final when defeating Victoria’s Keith Ferguson in a double shoot-off after their scores were tied after 60 targets, and then again after the first four shoot-off targets.

Ferguson, Luke Argiro, Joshua Bell and Frank Morris began the final on the back foot when they were all deducted a shot after presenting themselves after the official reporting time prior to the commencement of the match.

Despite an unsuccessful post-match protest, this penalty ultimately cost Ferguson the gold medal, while NSW’s James Bolding claimed the bronze medal.

Shooting in blustery conditions, Argiro held the early advantage before Adams, Ferguson and James Bolding charged back to eventually force Argiro’s elimination after 40 targets.

It was Adams’ third consecutive Olympic nomination trial victory, and he now holds an 11-point lead over NSW’s Joshua Bell in the race for Australia’s single men’s skeet Olympic team quota position.

In the women’s Skeet final, Victoria’s Aislin Jones held her nerve in the closing stages to edge aside West Australia’s Laura Coles by two targets.

Jones hit 40 of 60 targets ahead of Coles (38) while Victoria’s Brittany Melbourne, the highest ranked finalist, was third.

“It was definitely an up and down performance in both targets and performance. It was challenging,” said Jones.

The race for Olympic team selection for the single women’s Skeet quota place will go down to the final nomination trial in Sydney

Jones (348 points) holds a one point lead over Coles (347) with Melbourne (335) in third position.

Shooting Australia