Esmari van Reenen and Diane Swanton, South Africa’s leading shooting athletes, returned yesterday from training, beaming from ear to ear. Both girls had an outstanding practice session with the American Olympic team at the Changwon Shooting Range outside Deagu.
Also training with the girls today was the Korean shooting team. The training facility is a two hour drive from the athletes’ hotel, where Van Reenen (women’s 3P rifle) shot consistently in the same grouping, with an average of score 9.7 in a simulated final with the Americans, who managed an average of 9.4.
"I feel so good and confident after my training session today," said an elated Van Reenen. "My average score has boosted my confidence, and I am truly looking forward to the Games next week."
Van Reenen finished 14th in the recent World Cup in Beijing, and 5th in the World Cup in Brazil. At an ISAS competition earlier this year in Germany she came second, and is also a 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medalist.
Diane Swanton, who shoots with an 8.5kg shot gun in the women’s clay target category, was equally satisfied with her performance at training yesterday. Swanton holds the Commonwealth record is this event with a record result of 72 out of 75, broken at the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where she brought home the gold. The Olympic record for the same event is 66 out of 75.
It’s the first time that South Africa has sent a team of women shooters to the Olympic Games, and when asked how she felt today after their training session, Swanton exclaimed: "We just might come from behind, and surprise everyone to bring home the gold!"