Aislin Jones and her sister Renae grabbed their most treasured possessions when told to evacuate Lakes Entrance in Victoria a fortnight ago – and those items included their guns. Aislin and Renae, aged 19 and 16 respectively, are among 36 of Australia’s best trap and skeet shooters competing in the Tokyo Olympic selection event that starts in Newcastle.
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Four nomination events, two of which are being hosted in Newcastle this week, will determine who makes the cut for the Olympic 2020 Games. Australia’s shooting depth is arguably best illustrated by the fact Catherine Skinner – one of the nation’s eight gold medalists from Rio 2016 – is far from certain to secure one of two spots in the women’s trap.
Aislin Jones, who became Australia’s youngest Olympic shooter four years ago, is taking nothing for granted in her skeet selection quest. More serious matters have been on the teenager’s mind recently. The Jones family hails from Gippsland, scene of one of many flashpoints in the national bushfire crisis.
Aislin said “We’ve been very blessed we’ve been ok so far. I know some friends who have lost houses, it’s devastating”.
I was planning on training, but apparently, the weather forecast did not allow it. I’m pretty stretchy, I just changed the day. Shooting Australia has nutted out contingency plans in case of smoke or fire affecting competition at the Newcastle Lake Macquarie Clay Target Club. Organizers will follow AIS guidelines on smoke exposure but are confident there will be no issues.
“Shooting Australia chief executive Luke van Kempen and I traveled to Newcastle on Tuesday, just to check everything was in order,” shotgun coach Richard Sammon said.
We filled up all the stuff we cannot replace dad stayed home, was working and looking after the house. He is a paramedic and team manager at the Bairnsdale branch, so he is been working in the happening control team he is always pretty calm.
They had a fire adjacent to the club the previous week, which burnt out close to 1000 hectares, but the club capability was not injured. If smoke levels get too high that would mean a rearrangement or termination but at this stage, that’s not likely. Aislin, who at age 12 hatched an eight-year plan to compete at the Tokyo Olympic, can’t wait to see her sister attempt to qualify in the trap category this week.
“She’s quite a competitor. I am thankful for the sake of our sisterly relationship that we shoot different disciplines,” she said.