Scanlan's heartbreaking trap medal miss
Some 16 years of shooting has culminated in split-second heartbreak for Laetisha Scanlan, who fell one target short of a medal in her quest to make it consecutive Olympic trap titles for Australia.
Scanlan finished fourth in the Tokyo Games women's trap competition, while fellow Victorian Penny Smith was the first eliminated in Thursday's six-shooter final.
Scanlan started the medal-deciding contest at Asaka range with a score of 24/30, putting her just one target behind eventual gold medallist Zuzana Rehak-Stefecekova.
Five shots later, the 31-year-old was ousted from the final.
Scanlan missed her last target to finish level with Alessandra Perilli, but the latter's higher ranking in qualification meant she went on to claim bronze and San Marino's first-ever Olympic medal.
The jarring end came five years after Scanlan finished fifth in the Rio Olympics, having topped qualifying on that occasion then watched on as Catherine Skinner secured one of Australia's eight gold medals at the 2016 Games.
"I am super disappointed," a shattered Scanlan said.
"I can't really describe my feelings, but I am really disappointed.
"It is very, very fine margins. A miss can be not even a centimetre.
"It has been an amazing journey. It has been a five-year process, and I am really proud of myself to get in another Olympics, especially within the pandemic."
Scanlan and Smith were picked for these Games ahead of Skinner, with their domestic selection series wrapping up as COVID-19 first halted normal life in Australia.
Like compatriots James Willett and Tom Grice, who finished 21st and 25th respectively in men's trap, they have been starved of international competition during the past 18 months.
"Just disappointed. It is the way it sometimes goes," Smith said.
Smith, the youngest shooter in her final, didn't blame the conditions.
"It was windy, but not enough to affect the targets," the 26-year-old said.
Scanlan also refused to make excuses.
"We live in Australia, so we are used to windy conditions and things like that. It wasn't a surprise," she said.
The Scanlan-Willett and Smith-Grice pairings loom as medal contenders on Saturday, when they return to the range for their discipline's maiden Olympic mixed team event.
Both combinations have won world championships since the event was created by shooting's global governing body as per the International Olympic Committee's push for gender equality.
Slovak sharpshooter Rehak-Stefecekova, who carried her nation's flag in the opening ceremony then brought down a world-record 125 targets in qualifying, edged United States' Kayle Browning to grab the women's trap gold.
Jiri Liptak outgunned fellow Czech David Kostelecky to win the men's trap final.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails