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SHOOTING

August 24, 2008
CBC Sports

Last Olympic shot for Canada's Nattrass?

We may never again see Canada’s shooting trailblazer at the Olympic Games.

Susan Nattrass of Medicine Hat, Alta., says Beijing is “probably” her last Olympics.

In 1976, Nattrass lined up at the Montreal Games and became the first woman to compete as a shooter at the Olympic level. Now 57, Nattrass has competed in six Olympics, along the way rallying for women’s rights.

The oldest shooter to compete at the Beijing Games, Nattrass finished 11th in the trap shooting event, five places shy of her best Olympic effort, which she achieved in Athens four years ago.

It was a disappointing possible finale for the seven-time world champion, who was looking for her first Olympic medal.

“I still don't know what I did wrong before my last round,” Nattrass said after missing out on the final. “I did the exact same preparation. I probably started trying too hard. It’s hard when it’s probably my last Olympics.”

There have been many changes to the sport since her first Games 32 years ago, she says. The number of women competing has grown, but the popularity of the sport is up. New countries have emerged as shooting powers at the world level.

The Americans have long been powerhouses in the sport, but China, too, has proven itself at the shooting ranges of late.

Competing on home turf in Beijing, China won the most shooting medals of the Games, picking up five gold, two silver and one bronze for a total of eight.

The Americans were next with six medals – two gold, two silver, two bronze.

Canada failed to get to the podium in the shooting events, with Nattrass providing the country’s best finish at 11th place.

She said Beijing probably would be her last Olympics – but there’s no telling if that’s true. Her goal was to win an Olympic medal, which hasn’t happened yet. Nattrass also said her plan was to retire in 2009 with 40 years on the national team under her belt.

“Everybody laughs about this, because nobody believes it’s going to happen,” she says of her retirement talk. “My teammates and my friends competing don’t believe I’m going to be retiring, and my family don’t believe it — but I keep saying it."

Whether she retires or not, Nattrass will be remembered as the woman who got the ball rolling for the world's female shooters.

As her coach and mother, Marie, put it: “I think she has been the forerunner for women in the sport. She’s been great for the sport. That’s not just a mother talking, you know.”



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