Almaty-Fine World Cup Medals for Australian Shotgun Team

The Australian shotgun team shone silver and bronze overnight at the ISSF World Cup in Almaty, Kazakhstan, continuing to cement their presence on the world stage. Dual Olympian and Trap Mixed Team World Champion James Willett won silver in the Men’s Trap shotgun event while Rio Olympic gold medallist Catherine Skinner won bronze in the Women’s Trap event.

Only three weeks prior, Yarrawonga resident Willett won a bronze medal at the Cairo, Egypt World Cup, and after a short time back in Australia, landed in Almaty in competitive form where he was the top qualifier shooting 123 out of 125 targets. “…I managed to top qualify and am really happy with that. It is the second highest score [I have shot] at a World Cup so I am really pleased with that and managed to keep it up all the way.” Willett said. “Bib number 1 [as top qualifier] got me through [a few eliminations in the final] so I am pleased to come away with a silver medal after a big few months.”

Going into the last ten targets of the final to determine the gold and silver medals, Willett was three targets behind Italy’s Massimo Fabbrizi. With the two internationally experienced and successful competitors each hitting 9 out of the ten targets, Fabbrizi retained his lead taking the gold medal with a finals’ score of 46 out of 50 targets, and Willett the silver medal with 43 out of 50.

With the re-introduction of the Tokyo Olympic final format in the lead into the Paris 2024 Olympics, it was a welcomed change in Almaty from what has been a somewhat elongated finals format over the last 18 months. Willett said “I am really pleased we are back to the Tokyo format and obviously it paid off for me today and it flowed much better.”

Watching on from home, Willett’s very proud wife Amy said “The consistency in training and exposure to finals pressure this year has paid off and I am very proud of him.” From her hometown in Mulwala, Willetts mum Dionne said “We are very proud of him [James] and his achievements. He certainly kept me on the edge of my seat but it was an excellent example of his determination.”

Also in the Men’s Trap event, Milad Nasr shoot 117 out of 125 to finish in 14th place, Thomas Grice shot 116 to finish 21st and Craig Henwood shot 100 to finish 65th.

Skinner, who missed a finals berth in Cairo by four targets, spent some time training in Italy and Finland before her arrival into Almaty. “I’ve been having a European training tour for about five days in Italy and then I joined the Finish team in Helsinki for about two weeks where I shot the Polar [Trap] Grand Prix and shot a personal best and then flew into Almaty where I shot a big 120 [out of 125]”, said Skinner.

Skinner, who was the equal top qualifier with Italy’s Silvana Stanco, entered a shoot off to determine who would progress through to the final wearing the highly sought after bib number 1. “I qualified with 120 and then a 1 target shoot off to claim the top spot in the final but some tough conditions with a storm coming in and it was the best shooter in the final that stood out,” Skinner said.

In the final Skinner shot 28 out of 40 targets and three targets behind the silver medallist Fatima Galvez of Spain (Tokyo Olympic Gold Medallist) and six target behind the gold medallist Mar Molne Magrina, also from Spain. Also preferring the finals format used in Almaty Skinner said “I much prefer that final. You get a rhythm…and it just seems fair because everyone is head to head from the very beginning.”

Watching on from the Victorian regional town of Mansfield, Skinner’s mum Anne said “I am very pleased and after a very solid performance it was great to see her back on the podium.”

Also competing in the Women’s Trap event in Almaty, dual Olympian Laetisha Scanlan who shot 116 out of 125 in qualifying and entered a four way shoot off to determine the remaining two places in the six-person final. Unfortunately Scanlan did not progress through to the final, finishing 7th overall. Echuca local Kiara Dean, competing in her first year of senior competition, shot 114 out of 125 and just 2 targets short of making the final, finishing in 14th place.

The medal wins in Almaty bring the Australian Shotgun Team’s tally up to 5 world cup medals so far this year, with gold and bronze medals won by Women’s Trap world number one, Penny Smith.

Some members of the Australian Shotgun team will now turn their focus to the Green Cup, Italy at the end of June with national team selection to the July Lonato, Italy World Cup likely to be announced in the coming days.

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