Jack looks back to go forward to Tokyo Olympics
By his own admission, Jack Rossiter is now older and wiser – even at just 22 years of age.
Four years on from his first Olympic Games experience in Rio, where he finished 46th in the 10m Air Rifle, Rossiter is determined to seize the opportunity that awaits when he contests the men’s 3 Positions rifle event at the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.
Retrospectivity provides wonderful insights. When Rossiter looks back on the Rio Games and analyses where improvements can be made, the Flinders University business marketing student is totally honest with himself.
“I didn’t have a good competition in Rio. I was shooting good up until a month before the Games and I think that I almost got complacent with the fact that I was selected to go. And I didn’t train the right way that I should have been training going into the competition,” said Rossiter.
“Also, I didn’t have Uni, so I didn’t have anything else. So, if training didn’t go well, I was overthinking it and thinking that ‘it doesn’t matter, you’re already selected for the Games’. I wasn’t pushing myself enough,” he admitted.
Rossiter has crammed an enormous amount of international rifle experience since he was first introduced to the sport by his grandfather, George Leith.
Within a quick few years, he arrived on the international stage at the 2013 Oceania Championships in Sydney where he won both the senior and junior 10m Air Rifle gold medals.
2014 was a breakthrough year where he won in European competitions, competed in the junior World Championships and in senior World Cups in Europe.
“I had so much confidence. I just got better and better throughout the 2014 season. I just improved a lot,” he said.
He was also chosen in the Australian team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, soon after turning 17 years of age, where he finished 10th in the 10m Air Rifle after narrowly missing the final.
Participating in a major international Games for the first time was an eye-opening experience for Rossiter. Living in an Athletes Village amid high levels of security and having to follow Games protocols and procedures often provides a stressful environment for teenage team rookies.
“Everyone around was freaking out around you. I didn’t handle it that well because I was so young, and it was so different. With the bigger comps now, it’s definitely a lot easier. I know what to expect and what to do,” he said.
The recent Olympic nomination trials was another high pressure competition and Rossiter was happy with his performances.
“That’s the best format for the (Olympic) qualifications,” said Rossiter. “I shot a couple of personal bests – one in 3P and the other in Air Rifle. The selection comps definitely pushed you to do your best. It’s either make or break and I was happy that I made it (the team). There was some high-pressure comps and you don’t often get that in Australia,” he said.
While he was delighted to be chosen for a second Olympics, there was disappointment for his parents Mike and Wendy and himself when his younger sister, Tori, missed selection in the women’s 10m Air Rifle. Tori won Australian team selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games while Jack missed selection. Tokyo was a chance for another Australian brother-sister Olympic team selection.
“Tori was happy for me,” he said.
Tori has become an important training partner during the COVID-19 social restrictions. At the family home in Adelaide, a mini gym has been set up in the backyard while the hallway has become a SKATT laser range as they both maintain dry firing practice.
“It’s been good. We can train together, and we can talk about shooting at home as well.”
Rossiter will also focus time on developing his standing technique as part of his 3P training.
“I feel I made big improvements in kneeling and prone is pretty stable, and I feel if I make the same jump in standing as I did in kneeling, then I will be pretty chuffed with that,” he said.
He has also been interspersing training with some fun activities, specifically wall climbing on a frame built by rifle team-mate Dane Sampson.
“The (rifle) training is very much like a grind sometimes. There’s a lot of repetition doing the same things over and over and you have to push yourself to go to training. Some days are fun. Some days aren’t fun,” he said.
And then there is his university studies. With the Tokyo Olympics pushed back, Rossiter will need to swap some semesters around to complete his degree in 2021. “I still want to keep busy with Uni because it’s something that can take my mind off shooting,” he said.
Once he finishes his current degree, he is contemplating undertaking a commerce degree and is considering joining the Federal Police when his studies are finally completed.
In the meantime, Rossiter is eager for social restrictions to be lifted so he can return to the range.
“I’m itching to get back. I haven’t shot since the end of March,” he said.
With the Tokyo Olympics now postponed by a year and with his Australian team selection guaranteed, Rossiter is focused on the Games and believes the extra 12 months will help him become a better athlete despite the current social restrictions which have prevented live firing at the rifle range.
“I know what I have to do differently this time to shoot a lot better. Everything is in place now,” he said.
“I’m only 22 years old and I’m only going to improve before the Games. It’s not as though I’m pushing 40 and thinking ‘oh no I’ve got to push myself for another year’.
“I’ve got more than 10 more years in this sport. So, if I go another year and improve before another comp, that will be better for me.”
And, also better for the Australian Olympic team.