Anton Zappelli getting ready to compete in Tokyo. Photo: paralympic.org

Despite the retirement of 12 Games veteran Libby Kosmala, the Para-shooting Team is primed to win the teams first gold medal since 1988.

Paralympics Australia has today announced an experienced three-person Para-shooting Team for the Tokyo Olympics, despite team mainstay Libby Kosmala retiring in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

World Championship silver medallist Anton Zappelli, London 2012 bronze medallist Natalie Smith and 2016 Games fourth-place finisher Chris Pitt, each have at least one Paralympic campaign under their belt.

This will be the first Games in over 50 years that Kosmala hasn’t competed, yet Zappelli believes the team is ready to step up.

“Libby was always a wealth of knowledge for us,” he said.

“It’ll feel a bit different not having her around, definitely. But it’s there for us to try and set our own history now.”

With all three having competed at a Games in the past, Zappelli is confident that the team can draw on that too win the teams first gold since Seoul in 1988.

“It definitely helps that we’ve each competed at a Paralympics before,” Zappelli said.

“In my case, Rio was really just a taste of what it’s all about and the whole experience of competing at that level. You can’t compare it to anything else. It was a real eye-opener for me.

“This will be different because of the circumstances. It’s been a strange lead-up but, as far as the way the competition is run and the people we’re competing against, I think we’ll all be more comfortable.”

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Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin is backing this Team to begin a new era of success.

“Libby’s retirement left a huge hole and that sort of experience can’t be replaced,” she said.

“Yet, looking at the credentials of the three Para-shooters we’ve announced today and the way they’ve gone about preparing for Tokyo, it’s clear they’re absolutely ready to step up and put Australia among the world’s best nations in the sport.

“I look forward to supporting Anton, Nat and Chris throughout this campaign so they can focus on performing at their very best.”

Smith will compete in the R2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing and, teaming with Zappelli, the R3 mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone. Zappelli will also contest the R6 mixed 50m Rifle Prone. Pitt will compete in the P1 men’s 10m Air Pistol and the P3 mixed 25m Pistol.

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Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson believes this team will be able to continue on the success that the country has enjoyed in the sport since its inception.

“This Team represents the very best of Australian Para-shooting, a sport in which we’ve won 25 medals including 15 gold since it was introduced to the Games in 1976,” she said.

“Congratulations to this fabulous trio of Para-athletes, welcome to the Australian Paralympic Team and thank you to everyone at Shooting Australia who’s worked incredibly hard to ensure we’re sending a strong and well prepared Team to Tokyo.”

Name EventsParalympics
Anton ZappelliR6 mixed 50m Rifle Prone
R3 mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone
2nd (Rio 2016)
Natalie Smith R2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing
R3 mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone
3rd (Rio 2016, London 2012, Bronze)
Chris Pitt P1 men’s 10m Air Pistol
P3 mixed 25m Pistol
2nd (Rio 2016)

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