Girardet masters skeet with just one eye
Friday, 15 August 2008

BEIJING, Aug 14 ( - Veronique Girardet of France overcame more than rain in Thursday's Olympic skeet shooting.

The former world champion from Saint-Laurent-du-Var, blinded in one eye by cancer from the age of 2, was competing in her first Olympics—at the age of 42.

Undaunted by the damp and difficult conditions on the Beijing shooting range that drove scores down, Girardet shot a 63 out of a possible 75 for 16th place, missing the finals by six targets.

"Unlike the other shooters I don't have peripheral vision and I don't have depth perception because of my eye," Girardet told Reuters after being eliminated in the qualifying round. She said she did not need any special training or equipment.

"I've overcome this with lots of determination and fighting spirit," said Girardet.

Even though shooters in most indoor rifle and pistol events actually cover one eye to better focus on the fixed target, skeet shooters have to hit moving targets that fly at speeds of more than 100 kph (60 mph) away from the shooter two at a time from two sides.

They also do not know when the target will be released from the various positions around a semi-circle and must also first quickly lift the gun from hip to shoulder before firing.

"I have a different strategy—I stand back a little to get a better perspective," said Girardet, who is blind in her left eye. "Shooting in the middle position is the most difficult for me, especially getting the targets flying from the left."

Her first love was clay-pigeon shooting, where she was a four-time world champion. Seven years ago she had an urge to change and switched to skeet with dreams of Olympic success.

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