The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games commenced on the 7th of September and will close this Sunday the 18th. By the time competition concludes over 4000 athletes from more than 160 countries will have represented both their home nations and the core values of athletic competition in disciplines ranging from Archery to Wheelchair Tennis.
Australia is being represented by 177 athletes in Rio, among them shooters Anton Zappelli, Bradley Mark, Chris Pitt, Libby Kosmala, Luke Cain, and Natalie Smith.
The shooting component of the competition is over, and while the Australians arrived in Rio with high hopes the vagaries of international competition see them preparing for the closing ceremony without medals. When quizzed about their Paralympic Games experiences each athlete expressed disappointment tempered with enthusiasm and optimism for the future.
"Feeling reasonably happy with the performance. A little disappointed when you get to the end and look up and see that you’ve missed the final by three points (…) Four years, the goal to get here... the atmosphere, the village with so many people, competing in my first Games at this stage in my life is a pretty good achievement. Definitely got the next Paralympic Games on my agenda - it almost feels like I’ve finished my apprenticeship and I can compete with the guys now."
— Chris Pitt
"I’m fairly happy I’ve enjoyed it but I haven’t shot as well as I would like. The future of Australian Paralympics Shooting - I hope - is on the up (…) I would like to thank particularly my husband, the coaches, and Shooting Australia. They have all supported me."
— Libby Kosmala
“I had one shot that just threw me. I had a flyer and it threw me right off from then on... I couldn’t get it back together. I’m really disappointed. I have to put this bad one behind me and move onto the next one!"
— Anton Zappelli
"I’ve been sick this week. I had the ‘flu earlier in the week and that just started to mess with my head, and I shot poorly because of it. (…) it’s disappointing when you work for four years to get here and then have performances like that."
"Disappointed is an understatement. My gun broke yesterday and we did the best we could to fix it. It was a very challenging match and I lost my accuracy and too many unexplained bullets. I feel like top three was beaconing but I just couldn’t get there."
"You know you go in with the highest expectations and sometimes the river is just flowing a different way to you and you can’t fight against it. You gotta go with the flow and today it just wasn’t for me. But each athlete has to contend with different elements that come up; it enriches our character and thats what it’s all about. Hopefully we are better people at the end of this. And what a wonderful experience in Rio! Being here is just awesome - and Tokyo wow, watch out. I never surrender mate, ever! Pick me for your team cause I’m never going to surrender, never! Ever!"
Shooting Australia CEO Damien Marangon commented, “Australia’s shooting Paralympic athletes have comported themselves with dignity and professionalism in Rio, and we have been behind them all the way. While they return to us from Rio without medals, we know they have represented Australia and Australia’s shooting community proudly, and the way they have exemplified the Paralympic values of determination, equality, inspiration, and courage serves as an example to us all. On behalf of all of us at Shooting Australia and our member bodies, congratulations Anton, Bradley, Chris, Libby, Luke, and Natalie."
Shooting Australia is the peak body responsible for the growth, sustainability, and success of target shooting sports in Australia.
Media Contact: Kelly Wright, Shooting Australia
0411 149 995 or firstname.lastname@example.org