Yarrawonga Chronicle

So close for Willett

- BY ROBERT MUIR

In Men’s Trap last Thursday at Japan’s Asaka Shooting Range, Willett’s final tally 120 from 125 target would have had him placed equal second and a silver medal.

But such was the standard of shooting last week, the 25-year-old finished just two targets behind the sixth placed qualifier for the opportunit­y to shoot for a medal.

Willett was in 10th place and one target off the pace for a spot in the six-man semifinal with one round of qualifying remaining, missed two shots in the last phase to slip to 21st overall. He climbed back to 15th to complete day one. Starting day two, he shot a perfect 25 to progress to 10th position.

“Obviously it was a high scoring Olympics – I shot a good score – it was a very high scoring range,” Willett told the Yarrawonga Chronicle after landing at Darwin Airport at 5.00am yesterday.

“You couldn’t miss targets. I prepared the

Mulwala’s Olympian star internatio­nal trap shooter James Willett shot so well in the Tokyo Olympics which would have resulted in a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

best I could. I guess it wasn’t my event this time but I’ll be working towards Paris.”

Paris, of course, will host the next Olympic Games, in 2024.

One target was all that separated Australia from a shoot-out for the bronze medal in Mixed Trap.

Reigning world champion pair Willett and Laetisha Scanlan joined Penny Smith and Thomas Grice in shooting 145 from 150 targets in the qualifying rounds.

The Australian pairs finished three shots behind Spain’s team which went on to win gold, with San Marina claiming silver and the US winning bronze.

“So often that’s our sport – one target either way makes a very big difference,” Australian shotgun coach Richard Sammon said.

“It was brutal to see both teams miss that medal match, but we’ve been on the other side of that at world championsh­ips, where we’ve been the ones one target in front. We just have to cop it on the chin.”

Scanlan, the 31-year-old dual gold medallist at the 2014 and 2018 Commonweal­th Games, who was written up in the Yarrawonga Chronicle while practising with other team members at the modern Willett shooting range in Mulwala earlier this year, narrowly missed a bronze medal in women’s trap, finishing fourth. Smith finished sixth.

Asaka Shooting Range which hosted the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, is an outlying venue away from the centre of Japan’s capital, about 30kms from the National Stadium.

The shooting program comprised 15 events across shotgun discipline­s, air rifle and air pistol discipline­s, involving some 300 competitor­s, from 23 nations including 15 from Australia.

Practice will resume soon after August 18 when Willett is expected to be back on the family farm practising the sport for which he possesses a strong passion – hitting thousands of moving clay targets fired into the air from a trap at over 100kmph.

But first, the former Corowa High School student joins 130 other Olympians on the flight in the compulsory 14-day quarantine period, in view of the COVID-19 protocols.

Subject to the COVID-19 situation, Willett’s next competitio­n will be the Perth-hosted National Championsh­ips in October.

“I thank everyone back home. The support from the local community was great and I did my best to do them proud,” Willett said.

Like he did in Rio De Janeiro in 2016 where he finished fifth, Willett certainly did Australia proud in Tokyo and no doubt will be a strong contender in France in 2024.

 ??  ?? Australian shooting coach Richard Sammon talks to James Willett during the Olympic Men’s trap event.
Australian shooting coach Richard Sammon talks to James Willett during the Olympic Men’s trap event.
 ??  ?? Local dual Olympian James Willett and Laetisha Scanlan, all concentrat­ion in the mixed team trap at the Asaka Shooting Range at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan last week. (Photo AP)
Local dual Olympian James Willett and Laetisha Scanlan, all concentrat­ion in the mixed team trap at the Asaka Shooting Range at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan last week. (Photo AP)
 ??  ?? James Willett has his sights now set on various events in the lead up to 2024 Paris Olympics.
James Willett has his sights now set on various events in the lead up to 2024 Paris Olympics.

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