"In the wars" Ashley just short of triumph

A series of physical mishaps worked against Australian shooter Ashley Adams today as he again finished tantalizingly short of a medal in the final of his pet event, the Mixed 50m Free Rifle Prone at the Beijing Indoor Rifle Range today.

Adams qualified in second position for the final but finished fourth – one out of the medals – which was the same result as his Men’s 10m Air Rifle Standing last Monday.

But today was the Queensland beef cattle producer’s favourite target and the one he collected silver in at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

Head coach Miro Sipek revealed after the final that Adams had a series of hurdles to get over to even make the final.

``What’s happened with Ash today is really tragic because this was his best event. And I’m not really sure what happened out there today,’’ Sipek said.

``We have to talk about it… but behind the scenes he did have an eye infection for the past four days.

``I’m not trying to find excuses, but it was hard for him to shoot today because he normally wears (contact) lenses but they were irritating him so he took the lenses out.

``So that could have been part of the problem in not seeing the target as clearly.

``Then, he also fell over in the bathroom – fell out of his chair – two days ago and injured his elbow as well. So he’s been in the wars.’’

The 47 year-old broke his back in a motorbike accident in his 20s, but the wheelchair athlete manages a 28,000 hectare beef cattle property in western Queensland in his spare time.

He came to Beijing wanting to turn his silver and bronze (Air Rifle Standing) from Athens into gold.

Sipek, however, is a proud man now that the five-day shooting Paralympic program is over.

``We’ve never had such a good team as this one and they shot just fantastic scores this competition, but we didn’t really get any reward for that,’’ he said.

The Australian team of four entered 11 events and reached five finals for three 4ths (Adams 2, Libby Kosmala 1) a 5th and 6th (both to Jason Maroney).

``They really did the best they could do on the day and unfortunately that wasn’t enough. But what can you do?’’ Sipek said.

``In Athens we got two medals with much lower scores and performances than this one. But that’s sport and I’m sure this team is ready for much, much better things.’’

Maroney, 41, from Glenrowan, reached two finals at his first Paralympic Games.

``Jason is the real surprise package as this was his first Games and he shot very close to two world records,’’ Sipek said. ``To make finals in both his events is a fantastic achievement.’’

Sebastian Hume, 20, from Mildura, competed in the 10m Air Pistol and finished 22nd from 35 competitors.

``Seb is a young boy who really needs some international experience. He’s taken that first step now by being here and the only way is up for him,’’ Sipek said.

And as for Libby Kosmala, the oldest member of the Australian Paralympic team in Beijing across all sports at 66, and the most experience since China is her 10th Games, Sipek believed she would go to London for an 11th.

``I would say yes because she is still one of the best shooters in the world and she is very fit,’’ he said. ``So just forget the age.’’

Sipek said the team had remained very positive right up until the last event was over.

``We came into this competition hoping for three, four or five medals easily and we didn’t get any. So in that regard I’m disappointed.

``But I’m proud of every athlete here.’’

by APC Beijing Media Team
Posted 12/09/2008 06:20 PM

News article image