By Anita North
There have been shooting events in the Olympic Games since 1896 – the start of the modern Olympic Games, with clay shooting first appearing in the early 1900s. On the 6th of August 2016 the shooting events will start. I will be glued to my computer watching the scores come in on www.issf-sports.org and cheering on Team GB. Technology is a wonderful thing and to be able to keep up with scores from an event in South America from the comfort of my home still amazes me.
The road to the Olympics
GB have 6 shooters competing in Rio - 3 men & 3 women – that does not seem a big team, but it is a major accomplishment to have any competitors in the shooting events, such is the difficulty in winning a place.
As well as having minimum performance standards, like other sports, shooting in the Olympic Games is based on "Quota Places". A Quota Place is a qualification ticket to the Olympic Games, awarded to those countries whose athletes achieve the best results during designated Olympic Qualification competitions such as World Championships, World Cups, Continental Championships or Continental Games within each Olympic cycle. There are a limited number of these places available and a cap on the number of competitors from each country. All of this is done through our international federation - the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF).
The athlete who secures a Quota Place is not automatically qualified for the Olympics. A Quota Place is earned by an athlete but is then owned by his/her country. Each country is free to decide how to use the Quota Places won by its athletes. Some are awarded to the Quota Place winner, others hold selection trials or use a selection procedure for the Olympic Games. In addition, there can also be a certain level of swaps and exchanges both within the sport and/or across other sports. Some countries can also apply for “Wild Cards” for example small countries with few competitors or countries where they feel there is a “hardship” case.
So, every athlete competing in the Olympic Games has already gone through an incredible amount of work to get there.
GB Women Competing in Rio
Elena Allen, Amber Hill and Jen McIntosh will be competing for GB.
Elena and Amber are competing in the clay shooting event of Olympic Skeet. Elena is a World Record holder with medals from the 2013 and 2014 World Championships and this will be her 3rd Olympic Games. Amber Hill took Gold at the 2015 European Games in Baku, won her first ever World Cup and is former BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.
Jen McIntosh will be competing in two of the target events – 10M Air Rifle and 50M Rifle 3 Positions. Jen is hailed as Scotland’s most successful female athlete ever with many medals at Commonwealth Games and this will be her 2nd Olympic Games.
My ultra quick guide to the womens’ clay shooting at the Rio Olympic Games:
I am a clay shooter, so my particular interests are those events, although I love all forms of shooting.
There are two clay shooting events in the Olympic Games for women – Olympic Trap and Olympic Skeet. Each involves hitting orange clay targets thrown from mechanised devices called traps that are triggered to send the clays on the call of “Pull”. Olympic Trap requires shooters to hit a series of 25 going-away targets in a random sequence of different angles and speeds. Olympic Skeet demands the shooter hits a set sequence of crossing targets with the shooter required to start from a “gun-down” position. Competitions are over 75 targets in qualification followed by semi-finals and medal matches over 15 targets for Olympic Trap and 16 targets for Olympic Skeet.
If you want to learn more about these amazing shooting disciplines and the athletes that will be competing, then check out the ISSF website – www.issf-sports.com.
When are the competitions on?
Olympic Trap women’s' event – 7th August 2016
Olympic Skeet womens' event – 12th August 2016
How many women will be competing?
Olympic Trap - 21 women from 18 nations.
Olympic Skeet - 21 women from 17 nations.
Who to look out for?
Jessica Rossi – Italy – Jessica is the current Olympic Gold medallist and will be looking to defend her crown.
Ray Bassil – Lebanon – Ray is the in-form shooter, currently ranked World Number 1 and will be high on the bookies' favourite list. You can bet that the whole of Lebanon will be watching her progress.
Fatima Galvez – Spain – the exciting and dynamic 2015 World Champion will be attending her second Olympic Games with the passion of every Spaniard behind her.
Olympic Skeet –
Elena Allen and Amber Hill will be competing for GB and both have every chance of becoming Olympic Champion but they will have to overcome the likes of:
Kimberly Rhode – USA – The Queen of Olympic Skeet, This will be her 6th Olympic Games, Kim is the defending Olympic Champion. Indeed, Kim has medals from every Olympic Games she has competed in.
Danka Bartekova – Slovakia – Danka won Bronze in the London Olympic Games and Silver from the 2015 European Championships but you can be sure that she will be gunning for gold this time.
Is it always the top world-ranked athletes who get the medals?
World ranking is in indicator of competitive strength, but it may be who is on from the day of competition – who has the strongest nerve, the greatest determination, and the right mindset. The pressure will be immense and the atmosphere will be electric. For those shooters in the limelight this moment could shape the rest of their lives. It will be an awesome spectacle and I, for one, can't wait.
Hats off to all those competing in the Rio Olympic Games. To get to there is such an incredible achievement and you are all champions. Here’s to great shooting by all - but most of all Go GB!