The most recent clay target event included in the Olympic Games in 1996 is Double Trap. That Great Britain is considered a serious contender for a medal in this discipline at the London Games is very much due to Ian Coley, the British team’s coach and manager. Having identified the UK’s potential in this game as long ago as 1990 when the ISSF introduced the event as a World Championship; his prophecy was fulfilled almost immediately. Kevin Gill won silver in the second World Championship, Peter Boden won the event outright in 1991 and in 1994 Gill won a second Silver Medal. Always the principal promoter of the discipline in the UK Coley introduced 16-year-old Richard Faulds to Double Trap in 1993, and three years later at the Atlanta Olympics he made the final in the event. In the 2000 Games in Sydney Faulds became the second British shooter to win a gold medal in the history of the Olympics.
Since then, with Faulds’ medal and Coley’s hard work and enthusiasm, Double Trap has broadened its base in the UK. However it is still a small group, and as Coley constantly articulates “we need more shooters”. Nevertheless in 2011, straight off the blocks, 24 year old Peter Wilson won an Olympic quota place at the first World Cup shoot of the year and Richard Faulds collected one at his first attempt at the next in Sydney. Let’s not get too excited yet though, our boys know and we should understand the task that faces them in London. Up against the very best shooters in the world they are on home ground with a huge weight of expectation on their shoulders. On present form both Faulds and Wilson are genuine medal prospects, but let’s take a look at the others.
Inevitably one of the biggest obstacles in the way of other countries winning medals are the Italians. As two times World and European Champion and silver medallist in the Beijing Games, Francesco D Aniello is a huge talent. His ISSF record shows he did not start competing until 2005 aged 36, but what a record since then. His profession is listed as policeman, I doubt he has arrested anyone recently but we can be sure he will be on our case in London.
Just to make things more difficult the Italian second stringer, if you can call him that, is a four times World Champion – twice as a Junior and then as a Senior. Daniele Di Spigno is 30 years old, he began competing in 1993 and as with D Aniello he has no Trap shooting record before then. Incredibly he won his first Junior World Championship in his first year of competition, repeated the performance the following year and his next two Championships were in 1999 and 2002. A run of Gold Medals in World Cup events between ‘97 and ‘04, his last Silver Medal was in ‘07 but there has been nothing since. Let’s hope he’s not just saving himself for London.
The very first Double Trap Olympic Gold Medallist from the ’96 Atlanta Games, Russell Mark, will be with us in London. Nearly a two time Olympic Champion, only Richard Faulds being able to keep it together in a sudden death shoot-off in Sydney 2000 prevented him. A two times World Champion in ’94 and ’97, at 47 Mark has a wealth of experience but his big wins were a long time ago. However he is an Australian and a battler, I would not therefore be overly surprised to see him in the final at London ‘012.
Without a single American in the Olympic Trap event and only Joshua Richmond in the Double Trap, there is a big responsibility riding on this 27 year old’s shoulders. A product of the US Army Marksman’s Unit at Fort Benning Georgia, the legendary Dan Carlisle is his personal coach, and I am confident Richmond will make his presence felt in London. A Junior and a Senior World Champion in ‘08 and ‘10 and with a clutch of medals in World Cup events, he is the right age with some good history and represents serious competition.
The Russians are constant threat and Vitaly Fokeev was the World Champion in 2006. While World Championships don’t always equate with Olympic Medals they can’t be ignored. Certainly ’06 was Fokeev’s year – he also won the World Cup final. Since then nothing quite as spectacular, but five World Cup Medals in ISSF events in the last five years demonstrates Fokeev is a consistent performer and he set a world record of 148 + 46 when he won his quota place in Concepcion last year.
Vasily Mosin, now 40 years old, likes winning European Championships. He won in 2000, 2006 and last year equalled the world record in Belgrade with 146 + 48 – Mosin is undoubtedly a man who can shoot a score to win anything. It seems the Russians are coming and heading straight for London.
The reigning World Champion Jun Li was born in Shanghai in 1985 and began competing in 2003. He also shot 194 to win his Gold Medal in Belgrade last year together with a Bronze Medal at the World Cup shoot in Beijing. But, as with so many other things from this vast and increasingly powerful country, little other information is available.
Nine shooters out of a field of 18, all with records that suggest they could be in the medals and we may not have even mentioned the winner. It’s tough at the top and it can’t get any tougher in the Double Trapevent at London 2012.