Smith’s Olympic debut finally arrives after long road journey

It’s been more than two months since Penny Smith has been home to the family farm in Bookaar in western Victoria, but it will be well worth the wait when she makes her Olympic Games debut in the women’s Trap tomorrow.

Smith left home on May 23 to attend various domestic training camps and competitions prior to flying to Tokyo and was forced to have an extended heat training camp in Darwin and a longer training period on the Gold Coast because of Covid border closures.

She and 2016 Rio Olympic Trap finalist, Laetisha Scanlan, will contest the women’s Trap tomorrow while NSW’s Tom Grice will also make his Olympic debut alongside 2016 Rio Games Double Trap finalist, James Willett.

“It’s been a long journey but it’s great to be finally on the ground here in Tokyo,” said Smith.

“It’s been a life-long dream to be able to come to a Games and it will be really good to be here and begin shooting. It’s been a long wait,” she added.

Smith is a multi-talented athlete playing women’s AFL, riding in equestrian and played Netball at a high level before settling on a career in Trap shooting.

The Olympics runs deep in her family with her mum, Kim, the groom to Australian equestrian gold medallist, Andrew Hoy, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Now Hoy and Smith are Australian Olympic team-mates and they caught up once again last week in the Olympic Village.

Smith will pair with Grice later this week in the Mixed Trap Teams event and the laid-back Grice is lapping up his first Olympics.

“In some ways it’s exactly how I expected it, but with COVID it’s changed up a bit. Being my first Games, I’ve had nothing really to compare it with, so I’ll just roll with it and crack on,” said Grice.

“Shooting is really nice here (at the range). It’s one of the few places you don’t have to wear a mask, so it makes it even more enjoyable,” he said with a laugh.

Scanlan is excited for the women’s Trap to commence.

“The range is great. It almost doesn’t feel real that we’re here after so many months of the uncertainty with the pandemic,” Scanlan said.

“I think there was always doubt in the back of my mind if it was going to go ahead, so it’s finally nice to be here in Tokyo at the range knowing there is a comp tomorrow.”

Willett has adjusted from Double Trap to Trap for these Games and his preparation has been assisted by having an Olympic range built on the family farm in Mulwala on the NSW-Victorian border just prior to the Covid pandemic.

“I’m feeling good, and training has been going well. I’ve done everything that I can and haven’t left any stone unturned,” he said.

The four Australians will each shoot three qualifying rounds of 25 targets tomorrow following by a further two qualifying rounds of 25 targets on Thursday, with the top six Trap shooters progressing to the finals on Thursday afternoon.

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