Wed, July 30, 2008

Susan Nattrass, Trap Shooting

By Canadian Olympic Committee


Susan Nattrass

Birthdate: November 5, 1950

Hometown: Edmonton

Residence: Vashon, Wash.

Coach: Marie Nattrass

Club: Vancouver Gun Club

On National Team Since: 1969 <

BIOGRAPHY

In Beijing, Olympic veteran Susan Nattrass returns to the biggest sports stage in the world. At 57, the trap shooter is gearing up for her sixth (and in all respects, final) Olympic Games. It has been more than 30 years since Nattrass took aim in the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games as the world’s first female Olympic shooter. Since she was 18, Nattrass has counted seven World Championship titles. She is a two-time World Cup champion. Last year she added a gold in the Pan American Games and was Canada’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

One thing has remained elusive in her storied career: an Olympic medal.

Her game is trap shooting, a shotgun event in which the athlete fires at spinning clay saucers sent hurtling through the air. The event consists of five rounds, each with 25 targets. After the athlete raises the shotgun, she calls for a target and once released, she has two shots to hit it.

Nattrass has made steady progress in the last few Olympic Games, finishing ninth in Sydney (2000) and making the finals for the first time four years ago in Athens. But her resume does not end there – far from it. In fact, Nattrass has quite the history in the sport, helping ensure that female athletes could participate on the highest level.

The 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal marked the first time a woman competed in a trap shooting event. Nattrass finished 25th against her male counterparts in the groundbreaking appearance. In 1993, she won two World Cups in “double trap,” where two clay saucers are thrown simultaneously. In 2001, she finished second at the World Shotgun Championships. A year later she snatched a silver and two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Just before the 2004 Olympic Games the busy athlete won bronze at the 2003 Pan American Games. She is world champion seven times over.

Her event might have been erased from Olympic competition had Nattrass not stepped in to save it. The International Shooting Union decided that, following the 1996 Olympic Games, women would be unable to compete in trap and skeet shooting events. Instead, it permitted female shooters in double trap, a difficult transition that Nattrass once equated to a downhill skier having to switch to cross-country.

For five years Nattrass battled the Union to have the decision reversed. She had the support of many female peers and male coaches as she wrote letters, did surveys and played politics. Her resilience paid off as the Union decided to reinstate Olympic female trap and skeet shooting.

Nattrass has many honours to her credit. In 1981 she was named Canada’s Athlete of the Year (beating out Wayne Gretzky) and, for the second time, Canada’s Female Athlete of the Year (the first in 1977). That year, she was also named an Officer of the Order of Canada. Nattrass has enjoyed a spot in the country’s Olympic Hall of Fame for the past 32 years. Outside athletics, Nattrass is a medical researcher who focuses on women’s health with a particular focus on osteoporosis.

Nattrass started shooting at the age of 12, introduced to the sport by her father, Floyd Nattrass. He had competed in trapshooting at the 1964 Olympic Games. Her mother, Marie, is Nattrass’s current coach.

MEDAL COUNT

VOICES FROM THE GAMES