Sport Australian shooting team ramps up preparations for Tokyo

Australian shooting team ramps up preparations for Tokyo

Penny Smith is lucky to be in Brisbane after beating the COVID restrictions imposed on Victorians. Photo: AAP
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Penny Smith counts herself lucky to be competing in Brisbane this weekend, when other Victorians on Australia’s Tokyo Olympics shooting team will be at home.

Australia’s 15-strong contingent is assembling next month for a pre-Games camp in a biosecurity bubble, however they will be divided based on discipline during that stint ahead of staggered departures for Tokyo.

As such, the coming days were set to be the final chance for the pistol, rifle and shotgun athletes to bond as a group before the 2021 Games.

But Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak has forced Laetisha Scanlan, Elise Collier, Sergei Evglevski and Elena Galiabovitch to remain at home.

Smith, who is from Bookaar in south-west Victoria, could easily have been in the same situation.

But the trap shooter, who will soon seek to follow in the footsteps of Rio 2016 gold medallist Catherine Skinner, made a pre-planned decision to fly up on May 24 and bank a fortnight of training.

“Everyone’s still riding the COVID wave a the moment. I’m lucky I am up here,” the Olympic debutant said.

“I’m meant to be heading home for a week then up to Darwin.

“But my stay in Brisbane might be a bit more extended than planned.

“It is what it is. You can’t change the current situation, everyone has to roll with it and deal with it as best as possible.”

Smith has had plenty of practice in that regard.

It was more than 400 days ago when she secured a ticket to Tokyo, having bettered Scanlan and reigning Olympic champion Skinner in a high-class qualifying competition.

The 26-year-old described the ensuing enforced break from competition, when she continued shooting in a modified range on her family farm, as a “blessing in a sense”.

Smith’s first lockdown meant more time helping her parents on their dairy farm.

A four-month stretch of full-time work followed, with COVID-19 restrictions meaning she swapped lifeguard and swimming coach duties for a stint with Colac’s Parks and Gardens division.

“It was a good opportunity for me to knuckle down and focus on saving a bit of money,” Smith said.

“I was really thankful that council gave me that opportunity. It was really good, outdoor work.

“I got back into competition at the start of this year, felt really fresh.”

Smith, whose mother Kim was a groom for seven-time Olympian Andrew Hoy at the 1984 Olympics, is ready to adapt to whatever she is confronted with at a “different Olympics”.

“Everything over there will be a challenge in its own way,” she said.

“It’s going to be the person who can deal with it all the best on the day of competition.”