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Courageous Skinner shooting’s golden girl

8 August 2016

SHOOTING: Catherine Skinner's shooting gold medal was a triumph for self-belief, sacrifice and the faith of family and friends.

The 26-year-old from Mansfield, Victoria, overcame a world-class field to win the women’s trap at the Olympic Shooting Centre at Deodora.

In a tense gold medal match against New Zealand’s Oceania champion Natalie Rooney, the Aussie showed nerves of steel to recover from missing her first and fourth targets in the 15-target finale to claim her first win on the international stage.

It was a particularly sweet victory for Skinner who has often been in gold medal contention throughout her career only to miss out on the victory she so richly deserved.

Today, on the biggest stage of all and in her first Olympics, the two-time World Cup silver medallist and bronze medal winner at the 2014 world championships would not be denied.

“I’ve had plenty of moments when I’ve missed the first shot and it’s sort of just gone down from there,” said Skinner, who said she feared it was going to going to happen again when her first shot went astray.

“But you learn from your experiences. I’ve had some shockers and I’ve had some good ones and at the end of the day it’s paid off.

“Today I was more in control. It also helped that I was getting a bit frustrated with the targets not coming up for me.

“It made me a bit more angry so instead of being nervous ... I just wanted to see those little targets smash.”

Her mum Anne and brother Craig were in the stands to see her triumph while her dad Ken – her first coach – and brother Andrew, who so often shot with her at the range, cheered her on at home.

Skinner said she was still coming to terms with the magnitude of her win.

“Even now I am still amazed I have got this (gold medal) in my hand,” Skinner said.

Skinner’s victory was Australia’s second Olympic gold medal in the history of the women’s trap event, following Suzanne Balogh’s gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

The event was first contested in Sydney in 2000.

Her gold medal triumph also capped a remarkable Rio run for the Australian, who survived a tense shoot-off against Canada’s Cynthia Meyer earlier in the day just to reach the final six-person qualifier for the medal matches.

Then, in the six-person shoot-off to qualify for the medal matches, Skinner held her concentration after an early miss to win through to the gold medal match with the top score of  14 out of 15 targets.

While Skinner celebrated gold, it was heartbreak for her teammate, Australia’s two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Laetisha Scanlan.

The Aussie entered the finals as the top qualifier today but missed out on a place in the medal matches after missing five of her targets in the six-person shoot-out.

It marked the first time in Olympic history Australia had two competitors qualify for an Olympic shooting final in the same event.

In a great show of sportsmanship and team camaraderie, Scanlan quickly put her disappointment behind her to be the first to embrace her teammate as the Australian crowd in attendance celebrated its first shooting medal at the Rio Games.

As Skinner soaked up her triumph, she paid tribute to the support of her family and friends, as well as the staff at RMIT, where she graduated with a degree in chemical engineering.

“I doubt I would have got through (my degree) without the support of my lecturers at RMIT,” Skinner said.

“There were certainly times when they were getting sick of me because I would have to reschedule exams [because I was going away competing].

“Their flexibility was incredible.”

American Corey Codgell won the bronze medal in a shoot-off against Spain’s Fatima Galvez.

Earlier in the day Lalita Yauhleuskaya, competing in her fourth Games for Australia and sixth overall, and Elena Galiabovitch competed in the women's 10m pistol event. 

Yauhleuskaya shot 97, 93, 95, 94 to score a total of 379-x9 to finish 24th while Galiabovitch, who was on Olympic debut, shot 91, 93, 90, 95 to score 369-4x to finish in 43rd position. 

David Taylor

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