Levin shooter denied Olympic berth
The New Zealand Olympic Commission's top 16 athlete requirement will see Levin shooter Ryan Taylor denied a spot at the London Olympics this year.
The 32-year-old Levin builder, and 50m rifle prone shooter, says he is New Zealand's best shot at success at the Olympics with gun in hand.
But despite Taylor's two qualifying scores in four world cup events in the past year, the New Zealand Shooting Federation has ruled him out and is considering nominating another shooter to the NZOC.
New Zealand has only one shooting Olympic quota, after air rifle earned it at the Oceania championships. However no air rifle athletes qualified for the Olympics.
The NZSF can transfer the quota to 50m rifle prone, but the NZOC had told it Taylor would not be supported because they did not believe he can claim a top-16 spot.
Taylor said the other shooter, in women's shotgun trap shooting, would compete against only about 20 people at the Olympics but has not qualified to the same standard he has.
"So they see it as being more chance of a top-16 finish but there are less people. In prone there will be 55 people."
NZSF president David Tomlinson said Taylor has passed the "black and white" qualifying targets he was set but the NZOC were not convinced of his ability.
"Some would look at it and say his scores alone suggest he is more than capable of a top 16 spot, but the Olympic Committee look at the basic black and white," he said.
"We've done all we can to get him a spot at the games."
Taylor's qualifying scores of 596 were set at world cup events in Sydney last year and Milan this year and are the top qualifying marks set by any New Zealand shooter.
The qualifying mark is 595 and the top score possible is 600.
Shooting a 596 score at the 2008 Beijing Olympics would have earned Taylor a share of the bronze medal and a top 8 finish at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
His father Grant Taylor, president of Target Shooting New Zealand, said the top shooter in New Zealand should be sent, and in this case it is his son.
"We've got no avenues to go to, you see. We can go to a sports lawyer, which will cost a fortune, or continue on to the NZOC."
Taylor believes he could win a medal at London.
"It just comes down to how you shoot on the day. I've shown I can do well. If I shoot well, then yeah, I could win a medal."
NZOC communications manager Ashley Abbott said: "All athletes selected into the Olympic team must demonstrate that they are capable of finishing within the top 16 at the Olympic Games, with the potential of going on to finish in the top eight.
"The selection criteria for each sport is agreed with that sport."
Taylor plans to keep fighting for his Olympic spot.
- Horowhenua Mail