Nattrass happy shooting

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:13 PM ET

Susan Nattrass wanted to be a volleyball player.

But she was a better shooter.

In hindsight, she chose the right sport.

"It was good for volleyball and it was good for me," Nattrass said yesterday at the Strathcona Shooting Range on the eve of the 2006 national trapshooting championships. "When I go to Olympic Games now I always go to watch volleyball."

Nattrass, 55, has been to five Olympics and has her sights set on a sixth in Beijing.

Two weeks ago, she took a giant step in that direction by winning the world championships in Zagreb, Croatia.

29 STRAIGHT

It was her 29th consecutive appearance at the world championships and seventh win - first since 1981.

"I'm very happy and still a little high from my win," Nattrass said.

"It was wonderful to win the world championships. It was just amazing. It had been 25 years since I'd won my last world championships, so it was a little bit of a drought."

This week, Nattrass hopes to add another national title to her impressive resume. It won't be easy.

Defending Canadian champion Cynthia Meyer of B.C., and local shooter Sandra Honour are expected to provide tough competition.

Along with Nattrass, the three are in competing for Canada's lone female trapshooting spot at the Olympics.

"I expect really tough competition," Nattrass said. "We don't have a lot of women, but we have really good women.

"It's going to be a good weekend, but it's going to be tough. I've always maintained that it's sometimes harder to win a Canadian championships than it is to win internationally."

Having competed internationally for nearly four decades, Nattrass is by far Canada's most decorated trap shooter.

Born in Medicine Hat but moving to in Edmonton in 1962, she competed in her first national championships at the age of 18 and was hooked.

"It was in Montreal," Nattrass recalls. "That year shaped everything. I had never been to Montreal and what a wonderful city it is.

"The world championships were in San Sebastian, Spain, which is just gorgeous.

"I met all of these people from all over the world and it was so neat. That's when it happened. I just thought, 'This is so cool.'

"Initially, I just did it. I think the love and the passion for the sport developed more as I kept doing it."

Now as well as being a world-class competitor, Nattrass is also an international ambassador.

"I worked for five years to get women's trap and skeet back to the Olympics," she said.

"I did that from 1992 to 1997. I think in that way I feel like I'm the mother, fighting really hard in order to get it back and keep it there.

"I think sometimes internationally I'm a s*** disturber because sometimes they want to do things that are not good for the shooter or good for the sport. They're trying to do away with women's double trap so I've been asked by some of the other countries to try and get it back.

"I sometimes feel I'm the conscience because I've been around for so long."

STICKING AROUND

Nattrass plans on sticking around a little longer.

She intends on continuing through 2009 which would mark her 40th year of international competition. After that she'll contemplate retiring.

"I think what maintains me is that I really do enjoy it and it is my passion," she said.

"I like the people that I meet internationally. I love going to shoots internationally, so I think it's an all-encompassing thing.

"The people I have met going all over the world, the places I've gone, the experiences I've had, the confidence that I've learned from being the best. The skill that I've learned the concentration, I owe (the sport) so much."


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