Trap shooting still strong for Australia

John Salvado
Catherine Skinner is one of three shooters vying for two spots in the women's trap team for Tokyo

The make-up of what shapes as a strong Australian shotgun squad for the Tokyo Olympics will become clearer at the seven-day Oceania shooting championships, beginning on Saturday in Sydney.

The shooting program in Tokyo will be much different than at previous Games after the International Olympic Committee insisted on gender parity.

That prompted the omission of three men's events in favour of three mixed events, including the mixed trap.

Laetisha Scanlan and Penny Smith have already ensured Australia of the maximum two spots in the women's trap at the 2020 Games.

But one of them could yet be displaced by defending Olympic champ Catherine Skinner, who took some time away from the sport after the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

"It's actually an amazing place for us to be in as a sport but a very tough situation for the three girls who are vying for the two spots," said Shooting Australia (SA) high performance director Adam Sachs.

"All three of them are very capable of challenging for a place on the Olympic podium."

The most competitive event at the Oceania championships is set to be the men's trap.

World No.3 James Willett has already locked in one quota spot for Australia, with the other likely to be decided between Australian trio Adam Vella, Mitchell Iles and Daniel di Pietro and Fijian Glenn Kable.

Were Australia to claim the remaining quota spot in the men's trap at the Oceania titles it would also allow SA to nominate two teams in the mixed event at the Tokyo Games - increasing the chance of the green and gold challenging for medals in all three shotgun events.

Among the other shooters looking to lock down Olympic quota spots for Australia in Sydney at the November 2-8 titles is teenager Victoria Rossiter, the youngest member of the Australian squad at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Rossiter and her older brother Jack are among Australia's best rifle shooters.

Dane Sampson has already clinched an Olympic quota spot for Australian in the 10m air rifle.

There are a total of 14 quota spots on offer across the rifle, pistol and shotgun disciplines.

Sachs expected the Australian shooting squad for the Tokyo Games would number 16 or 17 athletes, with the final makeup to be decided in April.