As the build up and excitement for London 2012 increases we look at who is in line to fill Great Britain’s quota places in the GB squad and what they have to do to get there
The Olympic Games provides the ultimate opportunity for athletes across all sports to represent their nation and fight for the most prestigious of titles – the chance to do it on home soil is what our Olympic shooters are training for.
As the host nation of the 2012 Olympics the GB team has been granted automatic quota places in men’s and women’s Trap and Skeet events but Double Trap is widely considered our strongest chance of a medal and the shooters have had to win both their places in order to compete in this discipline.
So far this year there have been opportunities to win quota places at the ISSF World Cup events held in Chile, Sydney and Beijing and as it stands Richard Faulds, Peter Wilson and Richard Brickell have all won a place. However, as Ian Coley highlighted in last month’s issue, just because these shooters have won places for GB doesn’t mean they will be given a place in the squad.
Peter Wilson, 24, was first to secure a quota place when he won his Double Trap place in Chile at the first ISSF event of the season and has since won the Britannia Grand Prix at Southern Counties and placed well in this season’s selection shoots to put him on top of the GB rankings.
Richard Brickell, 36, won Commonwealth Skeet gold in Delhi last October and secured his quota place in Sydney after shooting a fantastic 147ex-150 to finish sixth in the final.
Faulds, currently ranked fifth in the world for Double Trap, is a veteran of four Olympic games including the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where he took the gold medal in Double Trap. At 34 Faulds is still at the top of his game and took his quota place in Sydney in March after a fantastic display of marksmanship against some of the best in the sport.
The newest of the Olympic disciplines, Double Trap, introduced in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where Faulds made his Olympic debut, is perhaps our strongest chance of a medal at the 2012 Olympics. With a strong team contending the two quota places it is the job of GB coach Ian Coley and the British Shooting board to recommend who takes the places.
Others in the running for the Double Trap places include 2010 Commonwealth gold medallists Stevan Walton and Steve Scott who have both been shooting well this season; 2010 Commonwealth bronze medallist Tim Kneale from the Isle of Man and Matt French who is currently third in the GB rankings.
Other than Brickell, there are a number of strong contenders for the Olympic Skeet spots. 21-year-old Plymothian Rory Warlow is currently top of the GB rankings after equalling the British record of 147ex-150 in two recent GB selection shoots at Beverley and Southern Counties. Malcolm Allen, Craig Lakey, Rhys Price and Michel Gilligan are all shooting well this season too and could be in contention for the two quota places up for grabs if they continue their good run of form. Clive Bramley and Drew Christie are also names to watch out for in the events coming up at the end of the season.
So far the Trap team has not won an additional quota place so currently there is only the allocated place for the home nation up for grabs – but there are plenty more opportunities to get the quota before next summer. Fighting for the places are Commonwealth gold medallist Aaron Heading, currently ranked number one in Great Britain, and his Commonwealth team bronze medal-winning partner David Kirk. Carl Exton, James Sole, and Neil Parsons are also in the top table, as well as Ed Ling, who recently took a break from Trap shooting but is now back with full force and ready to do his best to get his place in the team.
There is only one place on offer for each of the women’s event and favourite to take the Skeet spot is sixth in the world Elena Allen. With buckets of talent and experience behind her as well as a number of ISSF World Cup wins it will take something special for the other GB shooters to take the place from her grasp, but they are hot on her heels already. Pinky Le Grelle, Sian Bruce and Nicky Brocklesby have all been shooting well this season; Pinky was a single target shy of the shoot-off for the final in Sydney and 18-year-old Sian has been making fantastic progress in her first season shooting internationally as a Senior.
The Ladies Trap team has a few names that keep cropping up, but again there is only one place to fight for and Charlotte Kerwood is favourite to take it. The 25-year-old already has three Commonwealth Games gold medals and shot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the age of just 21. Anita North has been a familiar face around the Trap scene for over two decades and since her 2010 Commonwealth gold win, she has become even more determined to make the Games. Abbey Burton suffered a dip of form when she began shooting as a Senior but has since made every effort to keep up her fight for the single Olympic place up for grabs. Scottish shooter Shona Marshall took second place in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi behind Anita and has continued her run of form into the 2011 season with strong finishes in Sydney, Beijing and Chile.
Profile: Peter Wilson
Dorset-based shooter Peter Wilson, 24, took up shooting at Millfield School, Somerset, after a shoulder injury stopped him pursuing his other interests of cricket and squash.
After thriving at English Sporting in school, Peter decided that he wanted to make a career out of shooting and saw the best way of doing so was to switch to an Olympic discipline and compete in international competitions.
In his final year at school he found he was very good at Olympic Skeet but didn’t have the motivation to devote the necessary time and energy it. Instead he discovered Double Trap after a trip to Bisley Shooting centre where he bumped into to Ian Coley in the middle of a coaching session with the British team.
At the age of just 19 Peter was top of the GB Juniors and won the European championship after just four month’s training – he also set a new Junior British record of 142ex-150.
When he hit Senior level at 21, Peter signed a sponsorship deal with UK Sport and made it into the top five UK shooters; 18 month’s later the recession hit and he lost his funding.
The budget cuts to UK Sport, blamed on the recession and on the lack of medals brought home by GB shooters from the Beijing Olympics, saw some 50 athletes loose their funding – Peter went from being a top UK shooter coached by Ian Coley to a pub waiter in a matter of days.
Peter was lucky enough to land on his feet, however, and a contact he had made whilst shooting was 2004 Olympic gold medallist Sheikh Ahmed Maktoum, who was looking for a protégé to coach since his retirement from competitive shooting. In 2008 Peter Wilson flew to Dubai to be trained up to Olympic standard and has hit the 2011 Double Trap season with a bang.
Double Trap is very similar to Double Rise: the shooter stands 15 metres behind a line of three trap houses that throw alternate simultaneous doubles from any of the traps. As the targets are released from the house they follow set paths to the left and right of straightaway, the targets can travel up to 55m away and 10m up. The shooter can take one shot at each target.
In international Double Trap competitions, the course of fire is 75 doubles for men and 60 doubles for women followed by a 25-target double final for the top six competitors. The women’s event was taken off the Olympic program after the 2004 Summer Olympics but the men’s event continues.
Officially referred to only as Trap, the single-target Olympic Trap shooting event has a history spanning over 100 years. Widely considered as the formula one of the clay shooting world, its difficultly comes from its use of distance and speed.
The course of fire is 125 targets in the qualification round for men and 75 for women followed by 25 targets in the final round for the six top shooters. In 2005, the final rules were changed so that only one shot can be taken at each target, as opposed to two in the qualification round.
Until 1992, the Olympic Trap event was open to both men and women, but as with Olympic Skeet it moved to a single sex event in 1996 and from 2000 a female event was introduced.
Olympic Skeet, similarly to English Skeet, is made up of two traps at different heights launching a series of 25 targets in a specific order, some as singles and some as doubles, with the shooter having a fixed position between them. Men’s competitions consist of five series of 25 targets and the women’s competition is made up of just three. The top six competitors shoot an additional series as a final.
The event was introduced into the Olympics in 1968 and until 1992 men and women competed against each other. But in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the event was changed to a male only competition. This was a controversial move as the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona saw female shooter Zhang Shan of China take the gold. The Sydney Olympics, in 2000, saw a female Skeet event introduced back into the programme.
Profile: Charlotte Kerwood
Charlotte Kerwood, 25, from Sussex started her medal-winning career back in 2002. At the age of just 15 she beat the best in the Commonwealth to win gold in the Double Trap event at Bisley. In the process of winning she had set a record as the youngest ever British shooter to win a Commonwealth gold. Inspired by her success, as she made her way through school she pursued her career in her chosen discipline and made it into the World’s top 10 shooters. But after the women’s event was dropped from the Olympic programme in 2004 Charlotte’s Double Trap Olympic dream was over.
Undeterred by the departure of Double Trap from the Olympic programme, Charlotte put all her efforts into training in Olympic Trap, whilst still training for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia, which was to hold the last Ladies Double Trap event.
At just 19 Charlotte brought home two gold medals from Australia as she beat the top shots in the singles event and along with team mate Rachael Parish won the team gold. After such success in so few years Charlotte set her sighs high and started looking towards the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. With just one Ladies Trap place up for grabs Charlotte’s determination and talent took her to China. Her Olympic debut didn’t go as well as planned as she finished 16th overall but at just 21 she has gained invaluable experience that will set her in good stead in her future career.