Australia’s hopes of snaring shooting medals in the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio have been derailed by protests over the selection process. The sport’s governing body, Shooting Australia, has been criticised for seemingly overlooking 28-year-old Laura Coles and 16-year-old SSAA member Mitchell Iles from the squad, despite both of them having cast-iron cases for inclusion. The team is due to be officially announced on April 8, but it is believed athletes have been told secretly whether they have been picked or missed out.
Coles was the golden girl as recently as the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when she won the women’s Skeet event. The Perth shotgunner also just failed to secure selection to the London Games of 2012, which will add to her feelings of injustice. Now she plans to protest about her demotion, but hopes of having her omission overturned look bleak as she will not be allowed legal representation.
Youngster Iles is in a similar predicament to Coles, but if anything his plight is even harder to understand. The Melbourne teenager has reached the tally set as the selection benchmark on three separate occasions in the Trap event. But he has been shunted aside in favour of the more experienced pair of six-time Olympian Michael Diamond and Adam Vella. However, neither of the duo can match Iles’s qualification statistics.
The logic of the selectors seems hard to fathom and could create an unwanted distraction in the lead-up to the Olympics, which are due to get underway in August.