August 24, 2008
Last Olympic shot for
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
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,
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.”