“I’m confident this is the best Australian team ever going to the Games. All of them are medal prospects.”
Australia will field its strongest ever Paralympic Shooting team at the London 2012 Paralympics Games as the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) officially announced on Tuesday the six shooters heading to the Games.
Head Coach Miro Sipek said his athletes are the best prepared ever and with less than 100 days to go until the Games begin, believes they will return home with multiple medals.
“I’m confident this is the best Australian team ever going to the Games. All of them are medal prospects,” Sipek said.
“Although for half the team this will be their first Games, we are definitely the best prepared team so far. We’ll definitely have some top performers.”
Seventy-year-old South Australian Libby Kosmala will headline the team for her 11th Paralympic Games while four-time Paralympian Ashley Adams, Beijing Paralympian Jason Maroney and newcomers Natalie Smith, Luke Cain and Bradley Mark round out the six.
Australia has won 24 medals in Shooting at the Paralympic Games – 15 gold, seven silver and two bronze – since it was introduced at the 1976 Toronto Games. Australian Paralympic Committee CEO and 2012 Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig hopes the impressive tally will continue to grow in London.
“Australia has an impressive history in shooting at the Paralympic Games and we’ll be taking an equally impressive team to London,” Mr Hellwig said.
“Our shooters have posted some terrific results at World Championship and World Cup levels over the last two years and we’re hopeful these results can continue at the Paralympic Games.
“Shooting is an incredibly precise sport and the level of competition is immense. Our athletes are at the top of their game and the top of their sport which puts Australia in a very good position for medals.”
At her 11th Games, Libby Kosmala will not only be the oldest member of the 2012 Australian Paralympic Team but also likely to be the oldest athlete to compete at the London Games.
With nine gold medals to her name and still posting impressive international results, Kosmala is one of Australia’s most accomplished athletes and is looking forward to returning to the UK, where she had her most successful Games in Stoke Mandeville in 1984.
“It’s very exciting. I’m looking forward to it. In over 10 Paralympic Games, my greatest success was at Stoke Mandeville in 1984 so I’m looking forward to competing in London again for Australia,” she said.
“Since then, the scores have risen, the athletes have improved but also the equipment has improved. The rifles are more accurate now; we now have electronic targets with immediate scores next to us but also the athlete holding the rifle has to be extremely accurate as well.”
Shooting is open to all athletes with a physical disability in both standing and wheelchair classes. Athletes compete in rifle and pistol events from distances of 10, 25 and 50m, in men's, women's and mixed competitions.
The London Paralympic Games will take place from 29 August through to 9 September, 2012.
The 2012 Australian Paralympic Shooting Team consists of the following athletes:
Libby Kosmala – Klemzig, SA
Ashley Adams – Blackall, QLD
Jason Maroney – Glen Rowan, VIC
Bradley Mark – Wynnum, QLD
Natalie Smith – Fitzgibbon, QLD
Luke Cain – Boneo, VIC