Field & Game Australia

OAM for Olympic champion

Field & Game Australia congratulates Catherine Skinner OAM who is named in the Australia Day Honours for her gold medal winning performance at the Rio Olympic Games.

Catherine, who started shooting at the age of 12 because she wanted to “beat my brothers" was one of the most celebrated performances in Rio, battling wind and nerves to win the Women's Trap gold medal.

Her Order of Australia was awarded for 'service to sport as a gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games'.

Read our previous story on Catherine Skinner below..

Catherine Skinner couldn’t hear the commentary as she steeled herself for the final target in the Olympic Women’s Trap in Rio: “ … if she hits the target, she wins the gold medal.” She nailed it but the look on her face told the story: she could hardly believe it.

Back in Australia a few weeks later with the gold medal draped around her neck, Catherine is standing in front of 700 excited schoolchildren and half the town of Mansfield to receive the keys to the city.

The children have made banners and decorations in green and gold, some sporting their own cardboard gold medals as they cheer their local hero.

Catherine, who started shooting at the age of 12 because she wanted to “beat my brothers” has a message for them.

“Try everything: you are going to find whatever it is you are good at but the only way to do that is to go and try,” she said.

“Once you find that thing that you are so passionate about, stick at it. You are going to fail more than you are going to succeed but at the end of it, you can achieve one success that makes it all worth it.”

That one success, Olympic gold, is still a bit of a blur. As the weeks pass the memory of the moment is starting the crystallise but even the heavy weight of the medal everyone wants to see and touch hasn’t completely erased the disbelieve on her face a second after she pulled that final trigger.

“It still feels like a shock to win,” she said.

“Quite honestly, during our final I was waiting for it to go pear-shaped because I was having no birds, the wind was picking up, I was just waiting for it to all fall to pieces.

“I shot the final target and looked up and I’d won the medal.

“I thought, what’s just happened?”

Catherine says she hasn’t shot Australian Simulated Field for a long time — partly because her focus has been on the Olympic discipline but also because, unlike her brothers, she never felt comfortable with the gun-down starting position.

With the shotgun shouldered Catherine climbed the ranks in Olympic Trap and was satisfied with just making the team for Rio de Janeiro. Like all Olympic athletes, she set out to do her best, but unlike many other sports, clay target has a fickle form line; it’s hit or miss for every target and while confidence builds with each success, so does the pressure.

“I was proud enough to just wear the green and gold and represent Australia because it is so hard to predict,” she said.

“It is not like other sports where you have a predictable form line, and it is performance on the day.”

Catherine’s focus and determination can be measured by an incident in the early rounds when the weather was playing havoc and the wind blew over barriers in the media zone. There were bangs, crashes and a few screams.

Catherine’s family were in the grandstand and she desperately wanted to turn and check they were OK; instead, she focused hard, took the shot and hit the target.

“It is quite incredible to achieve this honour because we have such a strong female shooting group and some fantastic talent coming through,” Catherine said.

“I feel incredibly proud and also satisfied because it shows our junior development programs have paid off in talent identification and development.”

However, Catherine believes Australia can do better in clay target sports. The key, she says, is to encourage more female competitors.

“If you have a lot of women to select from, you are going to get those really extraordinary people that stand out,” she said.

“It’s like comparing the biggest fish in the pond to the biggest fish in the sea; with a bigger selection pool, we will get more extraordinary people up.”

Catherine’s love for the sport and her desire to grow the competition is evident in her answer to the obvious question about defending her title at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

She hopes the ranks swell and the competition gets tougher even though that would make qualification more difficult.

“The best I can do is try; we’ve got some fantastic talent coming through in Australia and if I’m going to make the team I will have to work hard.”

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