Rio Olympian James Willett displayed his class to overcome a low qualification ranking to capture the men’s Trap gold medal in the Victorian ISSF Shotgun Championships in Echuca today.
Willett, who will compete at his second Olympic Games in Tokyo in July, entered the six-man final as the fifth qualifier but withstood the pressure to hit 45 of 50 targets in the final to defeat Victorians Todd Malone (42/50) and Joey Yarak (32/40).
It was Willett’s first Performance Series victory of the year after he was placed third at the Yarra Valley Grand Prix in March and elected not to attend the NSWCTA ISSF Championships two weeks ago.
Willett missed his opening target in the final today but was flawless in his next 19 shots to take a two target lead over Malone at the half-way mark and maintained a decisive lead for the remainder of the event.
“I was happy with the final and came away with a decent score in the end,” said Willett.
“Conditions were good, but it’s one of the tougher ranges to compete,” he added.
Willett was unconcerned with his low ranking in the final which could have seen him eliminated had he tied with another higher ranked athlete at the elimination stages.
“It didn’t really affect me. You go out to hit as many targets as you can and, if you do that, the bib number doesn’t come into play,” said Willett.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist, Catherine Skinner, issued a reminder that she is still a major force winning the women’s Trap final when scoring a thrilling one target victory over Victorian junior competitor, Renae Jones.
Skinner, who missed selection for the Tokyo Olympic Games, claimed 40/50 targets in defeating Jones (39/50) with Tokyo Olympic team member, Penny Smith (29/40) placed third.
Tokyo Olympic team member Laura Coles continued her dominance in the women’s Skeet with her third successive Performance Series victory.
Coles was pressed by Victoria’s Brittany Melbourne in the final but emerged victorious hitting 51 from 60 targets ahead of Melbourne (48/60) with South Australia’s Bridgette McKinnon (33/50) earning the bronze medal.
NSW’s Joshua Bell scored back to back Performance Series victories when winning the men’s Skeet final.
Bell qualified third for the final but performed strongly in the medals decider to hit 53 from 60 targets to edge aside 2012 and 2016 Olympian Keith Ferguson (51/60) with Mat Costa (41/50) taking the bronze medal.
At the Wingfield Rifle Range in Adelaide, Queensland’s Dane Sampson captured his second gold medal at the Target Rifle South Australia Championships when he and Victoria’s Elise Collier triumphed in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Teams event.
With their victory, Sampson and Collier strengthened their claims to be named as the Australian entry in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Teams event at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
With the first team to reach 16 points declared the winner, Sampson and Collier secured their victory when winning the 12th, 13th and 14th series to eventually defeat Jack and Tori Rossiter 16-12.
Katarina Kowplos and Michael Davis earned the bronze medal when downing Olivia Cartwright and Ben Holko 16-2.
Earlier Sampson and Collier were runners-up to NSW’s David Wright in the Open 50m Rifle Prone Final.
Wright performed strongly to score 247.8 points to beat Collier (246.1 points) and Sampson (225.6 points).