Shooter aiming for Olympics

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Trapshooter Mikayla Bryant is gunning for the top.

The 16-year-old Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil has the 2024 Paris Olympic Games firmly in her sights.

Few would bet against Mikayla making the Games if she keeps up the trajectory she is on now.

At just 14 years old, Mikayla was selected for the South Island team and competed at the Trapshooting Nationals.

Last year, the Ikawai teenager decided to focus on trench shooting, one of two trapshooting events at the Olympics, and was by far the youngest member of the South Island Trench team who beat their North Island counterparts.

She capped off the season by representing the New Zealand secondary school team in a trench shoot against Australia, and winning a national gold medal in her grade.

“It’s going really well,” Mikayla said.

“I’ve always had a passion for guns. I grew up in a family that was quite outdoorsy. Then I had a friend that did the sport. I tried it with him and it took off from there.”

Mikayla, who has been competing since she was 11, now averages one competition a month and there was a lot of travel involved, she said.

“In the last five months, I have been to Hamilton three times, Christchurch, Invercargill and Australia.”

As well as continuing to represent her school, she will push for further honours by following the trench circuit around the country when it resumes in August.

From there, she hopes to gain selection for the Commonwealth Games and then the Olympics.

“I’ll be young, but I’m definitely prepared for the challenge it will bring.”

Mikayla does not have far to go for inspiration – Olympic silver medal-winning shooter Natalie Rooney, who is also from Waimate, provides Mikayla with coaching and advice.

“It’s very awesome to have her as a coach,” Mikayla said.

“She goes over everything I need to practise and improve. She is very good with mental support as well; it is a very mental game.

“It’s something you need to be very strong-willed and mentally strong to compete in, otherwise you can crumble like a cookie.”