Smith rises in battle for Tokyo trap spot

Penny Smith leads the way in the women's trap at the national championships in Newcastle.
Penny Smith leads the way in the women's trap at the national championships in Newcastle.

Penny Smith has thrown down the gauntlet to Rio Olympians Catherine Skinner and Laetisha Scanlan in the battle for women's trap for the Tokyo Games.

Smith shot superbly in wet conditions at the national championships in Newcastle to hit 71 from 75 targets and lead after the first day of qualification.

Renae Jones nailed 65, while Stephanie Pile and Scanlan both hit 64.

With every shot counting in the race for Olympic selection, Skinner's hopes of defending her 2016 gold medal suffered a setback when missing 14 targets.

She finished the day in joint sixth position with Breanna Collins on 61 points.

Australia has secured two quota positions for the women's trap at the Tokyo Games and either Smith, Scanlan or Skinner is destined to miss selection.

Scanlan, who won the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal, defeated Smith to win the Commonwealth championship title earlier this week.

Smith, 24, won a World Cup gold medal in Finland last year.

And she again showed her world-class ability when shooting a perfect score of 25 targets in the second of three qualification rounds today.

"It's a great problem to have, but unfortunately one girl is going to miss out," said national shotgun coach Richard Sammon.

"I'd like to take all three girls to Tokyo, but I can't. However, at the end of the day, we will have two very capable girls representing Australia."

In the men's trap, James Willett, ranked fifth in the world, hit 70 of 75 targets to be one of four shooting athletes tying for the lead after the first day of shooting.

Thomas Grice, Craig Henwood and Todd Armstrong each shot one perfect round along with Angelo Scalzone from Italy.

Scalzone, the grandson of Italy's 1972 Munich gold medallist by the same name, tops the leaderboard on 70 points alongside Willett, Grice and Henwood.

Mitch Iles and 17-year-old William Freni-Lizzi are a point behind on 69.

The men's and women's trap athletes will contest two rounds of 25 targets before the top six contest the final on Saturday afternoon.

Australian Associated Press