If ever you wanted evidence of the validity of ice cream for dinner, you need look no further than the game night ritual of our Trap Shooting Gold Medallist Catherine Skinner. The night before the final our newest Olympic hero kept to her traditional routine of ice cream before bed: although she had to be a little creative, her preferred Ben & Jerry’s being unavailable she settled for a McDonald’s McFlurry instead.
The 26 year old Chemical Engineering graduate might be on to something as the temperature of her last meal is replicated in her nerve when she is at the shooting range. This temperament was tested in a shoot-off she needed to win just to qualify for the six woman Semi-Final in Rio. With compatriot Laetisha Scanlon top qualifier for the semi, it meant Australia had two women still standing at this stage of the event for the first time.
It would be no surprise to anyone who knows her that Skinner was able to work her way through. Before she could follow her brother into the sport, as a 12 year old, she first had to convince her mother. A task she achieved in the end through pure determination and persistence.
Traits she had to call upon again in the Semi Final, with pressure building on her after missing the first target in the six person shoot off. Facing this heat, her ice-cream cold disposition helped her take stranglehold on a medal. She did not miss again, hitting the next 14 targets to qualify for the final in first place.
The Final of the Trap Competition is a serious pressure cooker.
Both competitors take turns to shoot at the released clay targets. As had been the case with the other rounds the final did not start well for Skinner. Through a combination of mechanical issues with the trap and missed shots the Australian found herself 2 targets behind her New Zealand opponent Natalie Rooney in the 15 target shoot off.
With her back against the wall Skinner decided to “keep going for it because it’s not uncommon for people to fall to pieces at the end”. The technical difficulties also helped settle her. “It helped that I was getting a bit frustrated with the targets not coming up for me” she explained “it made me a bit more angry so instead of being nervous…..I just wanted to see those little targets smash”
So as Skinner went about just making those “little targets smash” each cloud of dust from a successful hit putting more pressure on Rooney who began to falter. So much so, that by the time Skinner stepped up to take her last shot, another hit would secure gold. She made no mistake, a target low and to the right exploded into a pink flume and Catherine Skinner was an Olympic Champion. Natalie Rooney hit her now meaningless last target to ensure the final margin was one target.
It took Skinner some time to react almost as if she couldn’t comprehend or reconcile in her mind what had just happened. Team mate Laetisha Scanlon, put aside her disappointment from missing the medal rounds, and was the first to greet the champion with a celebratory hug.
After receiving her medal and her success began to sink in she hoped her victory would be a fillip for the sport. “Hopefully this helps to get a bit more funding out of the AOC” she remarked and that it might prompt others to give the sport “a shot”.
Mum Anne and her brother Craig were on hand in Rio to help her celebrate. Father Ken and brother Andrew, the two that helped her into the sport, had to tend to the farm back at home. One can imagine that Ken and Craig will catch up on the celebrations when a few free beers flow in Mansfield on Catherine’s return.
Until then, let’s all celebrate the woman with ice cream cold nerves and an eye for a target, 2016 Women’s Trap Shooting Olympic Champion – Catherine Skinner!!!