Shooter overcame cancer to make Tokyo team

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Chris Pitt struggles with the mental side of shooting. He says his weakness is losing focus at a big competition such as the Paralympics.

Which is curious, because the 56-year-old from Bundaberg lacks nothing for guts, persistence, patience and class.

In November last year, Rio Paralympian Pitt had half his tongue removed because of cancer and then underwent six weeks of radiation treatment.

Training for the 10m air pistol and mixed 25m pistol was basically a write-off from October to April.

He needed an invitation from the sport's world governing body to make the Australian team and that didn't happen until last month.

Suffice to say, Pitt is "hugely" proud to be competing in Tokyo.

"I would be over the moon to make a final with everything that's happened - no comps and cancers and all this stuff.

"The goal of getting there is what helped me through the cancer and the treatment."

The radiation treatment was less of an ordeal than Pitt had been warned.

"The staff just said to me it's purely attitude," he said.

But Pitt was still "as weak as a kitten" after the treatment and could barely hold up his pistol.

A rigorous strength program, plus plenty of eating, brought back his physical readiness.

So far his health looks good, but he must wait until November to be given the all-clear from the cancer.

"It does sit in the back of your head - I know I'm not having surgery again, that's just ridiculous," he said.

"I'm probably a bit of a sook - you see people go through much worse - but I just can't stand being incapacitated."

But more immediately, it's a question of getting his head right for when competition starts on Monday.

Pitt was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was 10 and took up shooting after the London Games.

He lost the 25m pistol bronze shoot-off in Rio 2016 and his aim in Tokyo is to make a final, then see what happens.

"If I can get the head right, which is difficult in big competitions, then fingers crossed," he said.

"Consistency isn't as good as it was, but having said that, I have zero expectations - which is a good thing in shooting.

"Expectation, as they say, is the mother of all disappointment.

"If you can stay basically brain-dead and just shoot the process - I've always had a habit of jumping ahead of myself and not staying in the moment."

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