Streak extends for Australia’s Paris pistol ‘threat’

Murray Wenzel |

Sergei Evglevski is all smiles after his Paris Olympics place was confirmed in Brisbane.
Sergei Evglevski is all smiles after his Paris Olympics place was confirmed in Brisbane.

Sergei Evglevski will stretch his family’s Olympic history to an eighth consecutive Games in Paris, where the pistol shooter won’t be content to play tourist.

The 26-year-old was among 10 named in Australia’s shooting team on Thursday and in less than a month will compete in the 25m rapid fire pistol at a range about 300km south of the capital.

Trap shooters James Willett and Penny Smith will both enter as strong medal chances based on World Cup form, while 2016 women’s trap champion Catherine Skinner will join them in her second Games.

Eight of Australia’s 11 shooting medals, including five gold, have been won with shot guns – two-time champion Michael Diamond’s trap defence in Sydney the sport’s postcard moment.

Pistol shooting (two bronze) and rifle (one bronze) account for the rest, Annemarie Forder’s Sydney bronze the most recent in Evglevski’s field 24 years ago.

“Props to the shotgun team; they’ve done so well however I want to change it for pistol shooting,” Melbourne-based Evglevski told AAP.

“Pistol shooting in Australia is strong but I’d love to make it grow, get more attention on it.

“I don’t want to just be a tourist (in Paris). (I want to) be a threat.

“The goal is to succeed, make the final and win a medal. I don’t want to come and just be like, ‘yep, I’ve done it’.”

Dane Sampson, Sergei Evglevski, Jack Rossiter and Elena Galiabovitch.
Dane Sampson, Sergei Evglevski, Jack Rossiter and Elena Galiabovitch with their Paris Games tickets. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Minsk-born Tokyo Olympian Evglevski’s family migrated to Australia from Belarus when he was nine months old.

Father Sergei Snr won the contract as gunsmith to service the Australian team’s guns during the Sydney Games, where his mother Lalita Yauhleuskaya was competing for the second time for her native country and won bronze.

She went on to compete for Australia at the next four Games before Sergei ensured there was an immediate baton change.

He also won silver at the Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games in 2018 when they were both on the Australian team.

“It’s really cool, that history and this range has sentimental value,” he said from the announcement at Brisbane’s International Shooting Centre.

“That lane right there, G, is where I won silver. Mum was in the crowd balling her eyes out.”

That was a rare moment for the family, who traditionally steer clear of each other in competition to avoid distraction and extra nerves.

Sergei Evglevski.
Sergei Evglevski shows his pistol shooting skills after being selected for the Paris Games team. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

It’s a fair approach for a sport that requires shooters to hit an orange-sized target from 25m as often and quickly possible.

“So many have done well at one Olympics then drop off and never come back again,” he said of the mental toughness required.

“I’ve gone through it. Before Tokyo a lot of sleepless nights trying to mentally picture it.”


* Elena Galiabovitch (10m air pistol and 25m pistol), Sergei Evglevski (25m rapid fire pistol), Catherine Skinner, Mitchell Iles, James Willett, Penny Smith (trap), Aislin Jones, Josh Bell (skeet and mixed skeet), Jack Rossiter, Dane Sampson (Men’s 50m rifle three positions, 10m air rifle).