Young gun eyes glory

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DEAN

He’s been to the Olympics in Rio and now shooter James Wil­lett has his sights firmly set on bring­ing home a Com­mon­wealth Games medal in April.

At just 22 years of age, the Mul­wala res­i­dent and for­mer Corowa High School stu­dent will shoot for gold in dou­ble trap as will an­other lo­cal, Ruther­glen’s Gaye Shale, who have both been se­lected in a 28-mem­ber Aus­tralian side.

Wil­lett has a lot rid­ing on this event af­ter ex­plain­ing that it will be his last shot at win­ning a medal in dou­ble trap as the In­ter­na­tional Shoot­ing Sport Fed­er­a­tion have scrapped the dis­ci­pline from the Olympic cal­en­dar and the Com­mon­wealth Games will go the same way. “I will have to shoot in the nor­mal Olympic trap event to try and make the Olympic team,” he told the Free Press. “I will have to ex­tend the lay out at home to train and there are chal­lenges that come with that. “The dis­ci­pline I am in now only re­quires three traps but in the Olympic trap you need 15, and each one of those is worth $5000.” Train­ing has ramped up with Wil­lett at­tend­ing a train­ing camp ahead of trav­el­ling to the Com­mon­wealth Games on April 1. Aside from look­ing for­ward to com­pet­ing, Wil­lett is ex­cited to have a home event where his fam­ily can all at­tend for once. “It will be good hav­ing them all there, they don’t nor­mally come and watch me com­pete, so it will be good,” he said. “In say­ing that it also comes with pres­sure as well, so it’s just about be­ing able to man­age that on the day.” The star shooter has been vis­it­ing schools this past week to speak to stu­dents and staff about his Com­mon­wealth Games de­but and shared his sto­ries of re­silience and com­pet­ing un­der pres­sure, goal set­ting, health and nu­tri­tion. On Tues­day, March 20 he vis­ited Ruther­glen High School and spoke with Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. Wil­lett told the stu­dents about his jour­ney to be- come a gold medal­list in dou­ble trap shoot­ing.

In 2016 he com­peted against an Amer­i­can who was twice his age, and went on to claim vic­tory to win the cham­pi­onship gold medal.

A big part of his suc­cess comes down to main­tain­ing a healthy diet, exercise and re­silience, as well as men­tal tough­ness to ob­tain his goals.

“The last six months have been tough for me,” Wil­lett told the Ruther­glen High School stu­dents.

“They took the dou­ble trap dis­ci­pline away from the Olympic games, so there are three shot gun events left now.

“This Com­mon­wealth Games will be my last ever shot at dou­ble trap. I have got to be tough and work to­wards what I need to do and work to the goals that I have set.

“It’s like any sport – we all go through tough times, times when we are not per­form­ing as well as we would like to be and we just have to work through what’s not work­ing right.

“Re­silience is some­thing I have learnt from a young age and I try to man­age it as best I can be­cause it’s a big part of ev­ery­thing you do.

“In this sport you have to pre­pare your­self men­tally and ex­pec­ta­tions can ob­vi­ously hurt your per­for­mance men­tally, for the best shot you have to be re­laxed so too much ex­pec­ta­tion can cause ten­sion and that sort of thing that can cause your per­for­mance to not be as great.

“Again, you just have to man­age it the best way you can.”

Wil­lett also spoke to the stu­dents about goal set­ting.

“My main goal is to win gold at the Olympic Games,” he said.

“We have se­lec­tion events through­out the year, so we are al­ways work­ing to­wards them.

“It comes back to goals and train­ing, set­ting goals each day you train so that you are not just train­ing for the sake of it.”

Wil­lett also spoke about the im­por­tance of stay­ing fo­cussed.

“I al­ways work to­wards mov­ing for­ward, there are peo­ple who say you can’t do stuff but if you work to­wards it and have the right mind­set, you can achieve pretty much any­thing that you work to­wards,” he said. “I have only been in this sport a short time, so it is some­thing I have been able to prove my­self, that if you work to­wards some­thing then you can achieve it.” Wil­lett started out shoot­ing on a farm be­tween Corowa and Mul­wala, learn­ing the skill with his dad out in the pad­docks on their prop­erty. Later he be­came a com­peti­tor for his school team and

knew he wanted to con­tinue with the sport to com­pete at the high­est level.

Wil­lett works pretty much full-time to­wards his sport, ex­er­cis­ing up to three times a week and train­ing on the range at home most days.

“Exercise and a good diet helps keep me men­tally sharp while com­pet­ing and helps with the pres­sure,” he said.

Wil­lett also talked about the breath­ing tech­niques that are re­quired for his sport and the im­por­tance of keep­ing his heart rate at the op­ti­mum level.

“When we are com­pet­ing our heart rate is about 120 beats per minute, so it is a lot higher than your rest­ing heart rate,” he said.

“When we are train­ing at home, how­ever, our heart rate is re­ally low be­cause we haven’t got that com­pe­ti­tion pres­sure on us, so the exercise helps our body cope with the higher heart rate when we do com­pete.”

To stay up to date with Wil­lett com­pet­ing at the Com­mon­wealth Games, visit his Face­book page – James Wil­lett Olympic Shooter.

Lo­cal bowl­ing cham­pion Josh Thorn­ton will be com­pet­ing in the Open B6/B7/B8 Triples on Thurs­day 5 April, start­ing at 7.00pm. James Wil­lett will be com­pet­ing in the Men’s Dou­ble Trap on Wed­nes­day, April 11, start­ing at 9.00am Gaye Shale will be com­pet­ing in the Women’s Dou­ble Trap also on Wed­nes­day, April 11 start­ing at 10.30am.

Photo: AAP

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