The Olympics opened on Saturday and Natalie Rooney has won New Zealand’s first medal – a silver in the trap shooting.
Rooney had to contend with strong winds and the pressure of a shoot-off just to make the final, but looked serene and capable throughout a long and testing day.
She had her chances in the final, against Australian Catherine Skinner, leading 4-2 and still level-pegging at 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 and 8-8. Finally she faltered and the Australian eased away to win a thriller 12-11. . .
Rooney’s silver success is just reward for her dedication to the sport since she was controversially omitted from the London Olympic Games squad in 2012.
The South Canterbury shooter was selected for London but later lost her place when rifle shooter Ryan Taylor successfully appealed against his non-selection.
New Zealand only qualified one shooter in 2012 and Taylor got the nod. . .
Rooney trains in Europe up to three months at a time with limited official funding. She received a her first grant of $20,000 from High Performance Sport in the December 2015 funding round.
“Obviously my Dad [Gary Rooney] has paid a fair bit of money for my shooting.
“This is a big thanks to him.”
Rooney said she was “very stoked” that she had delivered to make up for the family’s sacrifices.
“I think he’s pretty proud, I can see him in the stand.”
She was thrilled to become New Zealand’s second Olympic shooting medallist.
“Shooting is an awesome sport,” she said. . .
Rooney told Stuff in April that her omission from the London squad was a blessing because she realised she “was not ready to throw away my lifelong dream of competing at the Olympics”.
“Over the last three or four years I’ve been working incredibly hard on my shooting to make sure that I didn’t suffer the disappointment I did back in 2012.
“I feel I’m a much more consistent shooter now,” she said. . .
There’s been quite a bit of muttering from the commentariat about the Olympics not being interesting, that might change now we’ve got a medal.
Perhaps I’m a contrarian, but I’m more interested in these games than I have been for some years.
That’s helped largely because I know one of the rowers and have followed her career with increasing admiration for the hard work and dedication it’s taken to make the team and her determination to give everything she has in the races.