Sally Johnston wins Games shooting gold

Last updated 08:06 29/07/2014
Sally Johnston
James Gunn Photography
HOT SHOT: Sally Johnston kept her cool to win the women's 50m prone rifle gold medal in Carnoustie today.
Richard Patterson
Getty Images Zoom
Richard Patterson reacts after winning the gold medal at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow.

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It's lucky Sally Johnston is so laid back; the drama and stress caused by crucial gear going missing would have knocked others off their stride.

But the Hutt Valley shooter, who was born and raised in Invercargill was cool, calm and collected as she won the women's 50m prone rifle gold medal in Carnoustie today, by just 0.6 of a point.

The bolt from her rifle and her ammunition went missing on her flight to Scotland and still hasn't turned up.

The bolts are matched to each gun, and so is the ammunition so it's not as simple as just getting a replacement.

Other members of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games shooting team said for most, that would be the type of blow to knock someone of even 44-year-old Johnston's ability out of medal contention.

"She's just so cool and laid back," team member Ryan Taylor said.

Johnston, a bronze medallist in the same event 16 years ago in Kuala Lumpur, took it all in her stride and joked her gear was likely to turn up just as she was headed back to New Zealand. 

"At the end of the day, if you just wind yourself up over stuff you can't control, it doesn't help the shooting; you just have to roll with it.

"You have to be a little  bit optimistic that people will do what they can to help, you'll find a solution and it will all work out on the day."

It did, to the tune of New Zealand's seventh gold medal of the Glasgow Games. 

The New Zealand Olympic Committee are making posters, or memes, for its social media sights about New Zealand medallists and while Johnston was most excited about sharing her medal with Invercargill-based parents Ken and Jenny, seeing the meme was a close second. 

Ken and Jenny appear to be good luck charms; the two times they've seen their daughter compete at the Commonwealth Games, they've seen her win a medal. 

"We deliberately don't come into the room early," Jenny said. 

"We don't want her to see us in case it breaks her concentration."

Jenny was hopeful rather than confident Johnston would win a medal. 

"You don't dare think of a medal, but it's back there, you're hoping."

Ken was more bullish. 

"Yep, I knew she would," he said.

"Because Sally is so positive when she's in the right frame of mind she locks in and she just does it."

Just like her training. Johnston has a training room in her home - which doubles as a brag room for her medals too - so she can train electronically.

The sport is in her blood. Both parents shoot and they took over coaching the Southland Girls' High School shooting programme which Johnston started before her job as manager of the Ministry for Primary Industries' food science team took her to the capital. 

Southland's Jenna Mackenzie finished 14th in the 29-woman event and the two Kiwis team up tonight to compete in the women's 3x40, the three position event.

While Johnston stood atop the podium, Timaru's Natalie Rooney went about as close to the podium as you can get without making it in the women's trap.

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Rooney finished fourth after the bronze medal match with England's Caroline Povey went to a shoot off. The pair were tied after 15 shots, but Rooney missed her second shoot-off shot and Povey won the bronze.

Earlier Rooney had finished in a three-way tie for fourth so needed to shoot off against an Australian and a Northern Irish shooter just to make the medal-match.

She landed all three shots in that playoff.
"I got fifth in Delhi and I was really hoping for a medal here, but it just didn't happen. I just wasn't quite there."

Rooney led the 15-shot bronze-medal match by as many as two, but slipped Povey ground her way back to level the match.

"I blew it really," Rooney said.

Levin's Ryan Taylor also made the final, but was eliminated in sixth position in the men's 50m prone. 

He shot himself into third at one stage in the final.

"I shot well in qualifying and started the final well, but there was a bit of a wind-shift and that caught me a little, then I was running out of time to get my shot away and it wasn't a great one. That hurt me."

A number of the New Zealand team will turn their sights to the world championships in Spain next month.

- Stuff

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