In her debut open women’s ISSF skeet event, Aislin Jones has established herself as being truly competitive on the world stage at the 2016 Qatar Open, at Lusail Shooting Club in Doha.
With the option of shooting in the junior event, Aislin & coach Lauryn Mark set out to determine where Aislin stands in the open age category and to challenge her to perform.
Aislin does not have an official ISSF world ranking at this point in her career but is currently ranked number one in Australia. Entering in open women’s rather than juniors at the Qatar Open she backed herself against 8 women ranked in the top 25 on the ISSF Women’s Skeet rankings in a field of 28.
The top ranked shooters are all in their late 20’s or early 30’s with the exception of Amber Hill from Great Britain at 18 years of age, currently ranked 6th in the world. Hill is another rising star in the sport, having already won the 2015 European Games, and the 2015 World Cup Final in Nicosia.
On Friday in qualifying Aislin shot an impressive 70/75 to finish just 2 targets behind number 3 ranked Sutiya Jiewchaldemmit of Thailand, and only 1 target behind Hill, both of whom have already secured places to compete at the Rio Olympics in August.
With 5 shooters finishing on 70/75, including Aleksandra Jarmolinska (POL) who is also bound for Rio, a shoot off determined which 3 of the 5 would contest the 6 way semifinal with the three who had finished on 71 or above.
Aislin was knocked out of a semifinal spot early in the shoot off along with Nurlana Jafarova (AZE), finishing 8th overall but in the process established herself as capable of matching it with the best in the world. The remaining six shot for the medals with Amber Hill taking Gold.
Placing her firmly amongst the world’s best women, five others in the world’s top 25 women finished the event below her. Fellow Australian team member, Laura Coles (WA) came 14th overall with a score of 67/75.
Speaking from Doha, Aislin said, “I was disappointed to have dropped the high target on station 8 in the final round, but overall I was pleased with the result and the way I shot. It’s been really good to shoot in open women’s and to see that I am capable of performing at that level. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to shoot a World Cup this year World Cup this year with the Australian team and this will give me confidence going into that.”
Shortly before departing for the Qatar Open, Aislin was announced as the Gippstar Open Award winner for December, for her win at the ISSF Nationals (in Jan). Awarded to an Athlete of the Month each month by the Gippstar board, this is Aislin's third Gippstar Award and second in the open category. In a fortnight she will head for Sydney for the second Aus Cup event at the Sydney International Shooting Centre and at this stage will be travelling to Germany for the ISSF Junior Cup at the end of April.
Grateful for the support of the East Gippsland Sports Foundation scholarship, she acknowledges that her Olympic ambition is a costly pursuit. “I’m very fortunate that my family are prepared to make sacrifices to help me achieve my dreams,” she said. “I have a couple of businesses that assist me, but if there are any other local businesses that are interested in joining Team Aislin and assisting with practice and travel costs I’d be really pleased to hear from them.