Rio gold in Vella’s sights
OLYMPICS: Shooter Adam Vella has put behind him the messy Australian Olympic selection saga, and is looking forward to contesting his third Games.
The 45-year-old was caught in the crossfire when fellow Melburnian Mitchell Iles appealed the decision to send Vella and fellow veteran Michael Diamond to compete in the men’s trap event in Rio.
Seventeen-year-old Iles, though ranked No.1 in the sport nationally, felt he had been overlooked unfairly by Shooting Australia due to a technicality.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in favour of the prodigy but, regardless, two-time Olympic champion Diamond was ultimately deemed ineligible anyway after being charged with drink-driving and firearm offences, which he pleaded not guilty to. He will appear in court next week to face the charges.
Vella didn’t quite break bread with his young teammate Iles, but rather cooked the fish they had caught during a team camp and bonding session for Australia’s 18-strong shooting squad in Darwin this week.
“I’ve got no issues. It’s an individual sport. I’ve got my plan and they’ve got theirs,” Vella told Australian Regional Media this week.
“It’s a shame for Mick that it’s turned out the way it has. We’ve been teammates for years. I wish him all the best for the future.”
Vella won back-to-back pairs trap gold with Diamond at the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games, after previously teaming with him and Russell Mark to claim the team trap world title in 1999.
“I stayed out of it, with respect to the appeals,” Vella said.
“I just want to get on with the job now and so does the team.
“Everything’s fine. We went out on the harbour for half a day and got some striped snapper.
“We came back to the gun club and everyone pitched in and had a big team dinner.”
Vella is taking a relaxed attitude into the Games.
The only shooter who has been ranked No.1 in the world simultaneously in trap and double trap (2003), he has an Olympic bronze medal from his first Olympic appearance in Athens in 2004.
“I don’t get paid to do it,” he said. “I’m not forced to perform – I want to perform.
“There’s no pressure on me. It’s for my own satisfaction.
“I don’t need to say I need to win the gold to be satisfied.
“I’d like it, it would be very nice, but it’s not something I would look back on and say ‘oh I never got it, I don’t feel content’. Not at all.
“Anyone in the Olympic team should be proud they’ve made the actual Olympics, that they’re an Olympian.”
Having “defrosted in Darwin”, Vella, who won the Oceania Championships earlier this year, does feel he is ready to give it his best shot.
“I’d like it to start now. I’m firing on all cylinders,” he said.
“If you can settle straight away, find your rhythm straight away then you get off to a good start … that’s probably the key.
“It’s the one mentally strong enough to handle the big crowd, the cheering and clapping.
“Usually at a world championships or national event it’s a bit quiet, so that’s where the difference is (with the Olympics).
“If it takes you a while to settle down it can be a bit of an issue.”