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September 18, 2000

Nattrass's hopes to continue fall
a little short of the goal

By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
 SYDNEY -- For a while, it looked as if Susan Nattrass was about to write a story of stories at the Olympic Games.

 Forty-nine years old and responsible for getting women their own trap shooting event at the Olympics, she was leading and going for gold.

 After 25 shots, she had hit 23.

 But just as Nattrass dared dream the impossible dream, it all disintegrated like the clay pigeons around her.

 She missed four of her next nine and hit only 18 of 25 on her second set. Nattrass finished with 63 of 75 - two misses too many to make the six-woman final. She ended up ninth overall.

 The Edmonton shooter, who at the 1976 Olympics broke the gender barrier as the first woman to compete with the men, broke the first 15 targets of the final set. But then she missed two of the next three and was history.

 After women were barred from trap shooting in 1992, Dr. Nattrass (she has a PhD in philosophy) began a campaign to get a separate women's event. It was a long battle that included a personal appeal to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch. Her efforts paid off just in time for these Games.

 As Nattrass stood behind the firing line, women from all over the world took turns hugging her for making their Olympic dreams possible.

 "It was a blast," the four-time Olympian said to Pia Hansen of Sweden, who missed one too many and missed the final, too.

 Only one photographer was shooting pictures of Nattrass last night. Twenty-four years ago in Montreal, when she dressed to display her legs, scores of telephoto lenses were trained on her.

 Her shorts are much longer these days and there are strands of gray in her hair. But for a moment, until she started to think she was in position to win, there was hope.

 "In this sport, you shouldn't think. You should disengage your mind," Nattrass said. "I think I became a little cautious."

 Her Olympics aren't over, she now competes in double trap.

 "I came here as a contender (in the trap)," she said of the main event. "In double trap ... no way.

 "Go see David Ford instead," she said, referring to a fellow Edmontonian whose whitewater kayak event begins today.


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