1200 honour our Catherine
HUNDREDS of school children were inspired by the strong message given by Olympic gold medallist Catherine Skinner on Friday when she addressed a crowd of more than 1200 at the Mansfield Recreation Reserve.
Catherine was welcomed home with loud applause and cheers, accompanied by Mansfield Shire Mayor Paul Sladdin, and school captains from Mansfield’s primary schools.
Mayor Sladdin welcomed everyone to the civic reception for Catherine and introduced Cr Russell Bate who described what trap shooting was about, and how hard it was to coordinate eye and hand movements to be able to shoot such a small object moving at high speed.
“It’s an event that is both physically and mentally demanding,” Cr Bate said.
“It’s an event where one missed target can mean the difference between winning and losing.
“Catherine is a pretty exceptional young lady – she embodies what it means to be the best in her field.
“You have to sacrifice a lot of things to reach the level of success that Catherine has.
“She is truly a Mansfield girl – she was born here, went to primary school here and high school here.
“She has proven to be a fantastic ambassador for the sport, her country and indeed for Mansfield.
“We’re proud to call Catherine Skinner a Mansfield girl.”
Mayor Sladdin then presented Catherine with the ‘key to the shire’.
He congratulated her on her marvellous achievement of not only representing Australia and Mansfield at such a huge world event, but on also achieving the highest honour of a gold medal.
He explained the meaning of the ‘key to the shire’, saying this was only the third time such an honour had been placed on a Mansfield citizen - the other two being world snowboarder Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin and world cyclist Simon Gerrans.
“Civil receptions are held when council wants to honour one of its citizens,” Mayor Sladdin said.
“This is the highest honour a council can confer to an individual.”
Mansfield’s other Rio Olympian - runner Vicki Mitchell - was invited but was unable to attend, although she did send a message to the community which was read by Mayor Sladdin.
“The Mansfield community is such a wonderful community, and super supportive - it’s awesome to come from there,” she wrote.
Mayor Sladdin also presented Catherine with a small sculpture made by an Alexandra artists representing a trap shooter.
In her response to the presenta- tion Catherine gave an inspirational talk, mainly aimed at the 700 plus students present.
“If you have a dream, if you want to do well either in studies or in sport don’t give up, keep practising, keep trying and eventually your dream will come true,” was her message.
“Try everything – you will only find what you area good at if you try it first.
“I wish you all the best for your future, even if you don’t know what that is yet.”
Catherine answered many questions about the Rio Olympics, what it was like to be in Rio, what was it like to compete.
She said it had taken her some 10 years of practice and competitions to get to the Olympics which was her dream – but it was all worth it.
“I had to compete in many championships and events to gain points and to qualify for the Olympics and then I was happy just be part of the team – I didn’t expect to come home with a medal,” she said.
“When I fired that last shot and hit the target it was hard to believe I had just won a gold medal, it took some time to sink in.
“I just stood there and said to myself ‘what have I just done?’
“It was then a whirlwind for the next three hours as the media all swamped me.”
Catherine remarked that although this was the smallest Olympians reception she had attended since returning to Australia, it was the best and the proudest for her.
IT was a rousing cheer for Catherine Skinner as she entered the Mansfield Recreation Reserve on Friday morning to be welcomed home from the Rio Olympics.
Congratulations by the hundreds were bestowed on Catherine by many fans at Friday’s reception - below is a selection of the day’s proceedings.
PROUD MOMENT: Mansfield Shire Mayor Paul Sladdin presented Olympic gold medallist Catherine Skinner with the key to the shire, flowers and a specially created sculpture at a civic reception on Friday in honour of her win in Rio.
FROM YOUNG TO OLD: More than 1000 local students and residents attended last Friday’s civic reception for Olympic gold medalist, Catherine Skinner including young two year old Mia Mahoney.
ALL SMILES: Darby McCormack of Merrijig was thrilled to be able to actually touch an Olympic gold medal won by Catherine Skinner.
AUSSIE: Ava Bennett (left) embraced her Australian spirit, draping herself in the Aussie flag.
EXCITEMENT BUILDS: A sea of green and gold awaited Catherine Skinner on Friday with children from Mansfield Primary School dressed in Olympic colours.
RESPONSE: Catherine Skinner has the chance to respond to her presentation of the key to the shire before the 1000 strong crowd.
YOU CHAMP: “Catherine Skinner you champ”, Harry Purcell’s handmade sign loudly proclaimed (above).