Olympic Review catches up with Olympic Solidarity scholarship holders as they target London 2012. After narrowly missing out on the top six places in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, 26-year-old Maltese double trap shooter William Chetcuti is hoping his Olympic Solidarity scholarship will help him achieve a place on the podium in London in 2012, having recently won gold at the 2011 ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Beijing
What role has the Olympic Solidarity scholarship had in your training and in your career development?
I’ve recently been accepted for another quadrennial scholarship, which will definitely help me with my intense preparation towards the London 2012 Olympic Games. Soon after I got my first scholarship, I won a silver medal in double trap during the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) in San Marino in 2001. From then onwards, thanks to the Olympic Solidarity scholarships, I have continued to develop my technique and training programmes.
Looking ahead to London 2012, what has been your experience of competing in England so far?
England always offers different experiences at different levels and, as I hope to be able to qualify for the double trap final for London 2012, it helps that I can recall that one of my greatest achievements was in England – at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where I won my first Commonwealth Games bronze medal. I managed to repeat the feat in 2006 in Melbourne.
How did your career in clay shooting begin?
I started when I was about 10 years old, first with my grandfather – who had practised clay shooting at club level – and soon after with my father. Originally I started in trap but then, supported by Saviour Portelli, President of the Malta Shooting Sports Federation, and my coach, Jimmy Bugeja, I opted for double trap. I’ve never regretted making this decision.
How has your career developed in recent years?
Following the silver medal at the GSSE in San Marino in 2001, I won the gold medal in 2003 in Malta, in 2005 in Andorra and in 2009 in Cyprus. During the Junior World Championships in Cyprus in 2004 I also managed to break the junior world record with 146 clays out of 150. This record was equalled recently but has not yet been beaten.
What does it take to be a world-class double trap shooter?
It’s a matter of training, concentration, continuous participation and, of course, one must feel the constant need to always go a step further. In 2008, during the World Championships, I managed to finish in sixth place. During the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Beijing this year, I entered the final barrage with 141 out of 150. Following this I managed to hit 44 clays, which meant I won my first gold medal in a World Cup. Moreover, with this result I became the first Maltese shooter to obtain a quota place for the Olympic Games.
Your attention will soon be turning to London 2012. How important are these Games for your career?
London 2012 will be my third Games. In 2004 in Athens, when I was also flag bearer of the Maltese team, I finished in joint sixth place but then, following a shoot-off, I ended up in ninth, missing out on a place in the top six. Four years later in Beijing I went a step further when, after finishing joint sixth again, I ended up in eighth place following a shoot-off. This was Malta’s best ever result in any Olympic Games since its first participation at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. I will be looking forward to London 2012 with the aim of doing better than I did in Athens and Beijing.
Olympic Solidarity is the body that ensures that talented athletes, regardless of their financial status, have an equal chance of reaching the Olympic Games and succeeding in the Olympic arena.
It is responsible for administering and managing the National Olympic Committees’ share of the revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights to the Olympic Games.
Working in particular with the most disadvantaged NOCs and their Continental Associations, Olympic Solidarity uses this money to develop a range of assistance programmes.
Within its total budget, USD 61 million is earmarked to provide support to athletes for the 2009-2012 Olympic Solidarity quadrennial period.