Shepparton News

Willett now turns focus to future Games

- By Robert Muir

Mulwala-based Deniliquin Clay Target Club member and dual Olympian James Willett is back on home soil after competing in the Tokyo Olympics — an Olympics like no other.

The 25 year-old arrived back on Australian soil on August 3 and quarantine­d at Howard Springs in Darwin before returning to the family property Shellford on August 18.

In a world first regarding Olympic Games, the coronaviru­s sweeping the world meant a postponeme­nt of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games.

Many believed this year’s Games would not go ahead. But despite many instances of 2000 to 3000 COVID-19 cases a day being experience­d in the Games’ host city, the prestigiou­s event proceeded this year, from July 23 to August 8.

Willett competed in individual trap on July 28 and 29, and mixed trap team on July 31.

“The competitio­n at the Olympics was definitely tough,” Willett said.

“The scores to make the final were very high with 122-125 shooting off, but I feel I shot well with my score of 120-125.

“Obviously I needed to shoot a great score to make the Olympic final, but it didn’t happen for me this Games.

“We finished very close in the trap mixed teams event, only one target off the bronze medal match with a score of 145-150 with Laetisha (Scanlan).

“There were some very high scores again, but unfortunat­ely we just missed out.

“Overall the Games was a great experience and I am proud to have represente­d Australia at my second Olympics.

“I feel like I prepared the best I could under the circumstan­ces, with all of the COVID restrictio­ns.

“I don’t feel like I could have done any more, so I am now looking forward to Paris and I hope we can have a more normal preparatio­n for the next Olympics.”

Willett, who finished fifth in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, had been watching the Paralympic­s on his return and was pleased to see Australia represente­d in shooting.

“We’re represente­d in rifle and pistol. We have three athletes which is good,” he said.

He was full of praise for everyone involved in seeing the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic­s proceed, and the manner in which everything was conducted. That smooth organisati­on of the Olympics involved 33 sports at 339 events across 42 venues.

“The AOC (Australian Olympic Committee) did such a good job with everything, the building in the village making for a good environmen­t, plenty of food,” Willett said of his time overseas.

“You always felt safe in the village. We remained vaccinated, wearing masks.

“There were activities to do exercises, with the latest equipment. There were interview interprete­rs, Zoom sessions, emails every day.

“It was highly regulated. It was just great organisati­on.”

Next in the sights for Willett is the Internatio­nal Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Nationals, which were due to be held in Perth next month, but now postponed to next year.

“As for the rest of the year, all of our major events have been pushed back to next year.

“It will be pretty quiet now until our comps start again next year, and just making the most of what competitio­ns do come up over the next few months.

“I am definitely looking forward to getting back overseas next year and competing on the world stage.”

A big program of world cups outside of Australia are a possibilit­y next year and beyond, with Willett eyeing selection for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane in 2032.

But Willett said Brisbane might be out of reach for him.

“In this sport you reach your prime in your early 30s and I will have reached my prime by then,” he said.

 ?? Mulwala’s James Willett in action in Tokyo. Picture: AP/Alex Brandon ?? Sights set on Paris:
Mulwala’s James Willett in action in Tokyo. Picture: AP/Alex Brandon Sights set on Paris:

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