Olympics: Rooney to compete at Rio after exclusion from London

By David Leggat

Natalie Rooney poses during the New Zealand Olympic teams Rio 2016 Olympic Games portrait session. Photo /Getty
Natalie Rooney poses during the New Zealand Olympic teams Rio 2016 Olympic Games portrait session. Photo /Getty

Natalie Rooney admits it took some time to get over the disappointment of being selected, then omitted from the London Olympics four years ago.

The Timaru trap shooter was chosen for New Zealand's one spot in the Games shooting team, but then lost out when rifleman Ryan Taylor appealed against his non-selection and successfully overturned the initial judgment.

"It was extremely disappointing, but I had to put it behind me and I've come back stronger from it," Rooney said from Rio yesterday, where she's preparing for an Olympic test event.

"The last four years have really been a turning point in my shooting and I've started being able to compete with the world's best."

As it happens, Rooney, a two-time Commonwealth Games representative, and Taylor are now Rio-bound teammates, along with fast-rising 24-year-old skeet shooter Chloe Tipple of Christchurch.

Rooney won the Oceania title late last year, which gave her the quota spot she needed for the Olympics, having already qualified under the New Zealand standard last March.

Rooney is relishing working with Italian coach Andrea Miotto over the last three years. Last year she made three finals (top six) out of four events and made the top six at her one World Cup event this year in Cyprus.

At the world championships in Italy, she was top qualifier but finished sixth in the final.

She believes she is in the best form of her career but needs to tidy up her performances in finals competitions.

"I don't get to shoot that many finals because in New Zealand we don't have that many competitions. I'm trying to teach myself and learn how to approach it.

"In the next three months I'll be working on it. I know I can shoot well but it's about putting it out on the day."

Taylor is glad to have got his qualification the traditional way.

He's going to his third Olympics, after Athens in 2004 and London. He's a carpenter and knows he'll be up against professional shooters, which makes his job tough.

He put up strong performances at World Cups at Fort Benning in the United States and Munich in June-July. The US performance qualified Taylor - "that was a huge relief, it took a lot of weight off my back. After that you can just shoot."

His second placing at the Oceanias in Sydney late last year got him a quota spot for Rio.

Tipple secured hers - based on a minimum of two qualifying scores, one international, one domestic - in Perth last August and several sufficient scores at home.

- NZ Herald

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