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On junior clay target shooting’s biggest stage, it seemed a slow start in the women’s trap event at the world championships in Croatia would prove costly for Australia’s Kiara Dean.
But a return to basics sparked a dramatic recovery at her final junior competition, resulting in Dean’s maiden international gold medal.
Hopefully, it is the first of many for the rising shooter from Echuca.
“In the first round of the entire competition I dropped five out of my first seven targets,” Dean said.
“I was super nervous. I let it get to me and I started off really rough.
“I just went ‘that’s okay, one rough round might still get you through, just get out there and shoot targets’.
“I made sure that during the entire final I followed my process to a tee and made sure even when it got close that I was just focused on the target.
“I always go back to the basics and follow through with what I know how to do.”
A tie at the end of regulation shooting resulted in a shoot-off against competitor Ting Han, and after the first set of five targets it was Dean’s opponent who blinked first, a missed target confirming gold for the Australian.
“It was pretty incredible. I was so in the zone I don’t think I realised I won,” Dean said.
“When the other girl dropped her target, I didn’t process it until I turned around and looked at my coaches and mates with me in the final.
“(Teammate Breanna Collins) just looked at me and said ‘you’ve won it’. And it didn’t sink in until she clicked her fingers and said it. It was really cool.”
Dean admitted she had hoped to go one step further than her pair of silver medals in Germany earlier in the year, and looked to finish her junior career in style as competitors aged 21 and over move into the senior category.
“I was pretty hungry coming into this one. It was my last junior competition,” Dean said.
“I was pretty determined after winning the silver.
“I was close to winning gold in Germany but missed it by one target. It was good to be able to come through and know what to expect.
“In the weeks leading up to this competition I trained so hard. I spent a week down in Melbourne to compete and train with some coaches.”
It wasn’t the only medal success for Dean, who also celebrated a bronze medal alongside Australian teammates Collins and Molly Bretag in the women’s junior team trap event.
For now, Dean is keen to return to normality before embarking on a tournament in South Africa next year, with a busy summer ahead for the veterinarian.
“I love my job and I’m pretty lucky to work with some cool people,” she said.
“It will be good to get back to work and prepare for Africa.”
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