William Chetcuti has been one of our most outstanding sportsmen since the turn of the new millennium.
The double trap shooter has enjoyed success at all levels of international competition, winning titles and medals at World Cups, World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Mediterranean Games and the Games of the Small States of Europe.
The only platform where he failed to leave his mark is the Olympic Games. After three successive showings, he is yet to make the top-six cut where podium places are decided.
In Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, Chetcuti was denied a place in the final after tense shoot-offs. Four years ago, in London, he was again within touching distance to qualify for medal contention but missed out by just two clays.
Chetcuti is now in Rio looking to finally break his jinx. He feels he is again adequately prepared and is looking forward to show his talent on competition day today at the National Shooting Centre in Deodoro.
“It’s always a huge honour for me to be selected for the Olympics,” Chetcuti told Times of Malta.
“The run-up for Rio was not easy though. Last year, I tried hard to win an Olympic quota but I missed out. I still managed some very good results and then the federation applied for an Olympic invitation. Now, I’m just grateful that I was given another opportunity on such a big stage.
“I want to achieve the best possible result and make my country proud.”
Chetcuti said his build-up for Rio was different as apart from the usual technical preparation he afforded more time and importance to the mental aspect.
“When I sat down with coach Jimmy Bugeja to discuss Rio we both felt that more had to be done on the psychological factor. That’s why I have been working closely with mentor Felix Schembri,” Chetcuti explained.
“In shooting, like any other sport, mental toughness is crucial as it’s not easy to keep hold of your nerves throughout the entire competition. I have been attending sessions with Schembri on a regular basis and his input has helped me a lot.
“In previous Games, our hopes of success rested solely on my talent and technical preparation. This time, however, I am much stronger from a psychological point of view and that could make a whole lot of difference.”
The coach’s valuable advice made me the sportsman I am today
The Manikata ace is not looking too far ahead on what he can achieve in Rio.
“There is always a great level of expectation at the Olympics,” Chetcuti admitted.
“But my focus will be a berth in the semi-finals. To achieve that I have to maintain a high level of concentration throughout. In qualifying, every clay has a huge bearing on the final outcome as was the case four years ago.
“Strangely, in semi-finals the pressure is more often than not off my back. Really, I shoot more comfortably in the medal matches.”
Chetcuti said that his World Cup series victory in Baku, in June, has increased his self-belief.
“Winning that shoot in Baku came at the right moment,” Chetcuti, who also won the 2011 World Cup in Beijing, said.
“I suppose it was a timely reminder that I really had the ability to reach the semi-finals and finals of prestigious competitions and even winning them. I have never doubted myself but sometimes you need that extra push and Baku certainly gave me a great lift.”
Meanwhile, Chetcuti met no problem to acclimatise with the Deodoro shooting range having already competed there in a pre-Olympic shoot earlier this year.
“The Deodoro complex is a great venue,” Chetcuti said.
“Unfortunately, they are only three ranges there and that makes life a little bit difficult to practice. But that’s something affecting all participants so we just have to adjust to the situation.”
Coach Jimmy Bugeja, who has followed Chetcuti’s progress since he took up the sport 16 years ago, also made the trip to Brazil.
“Jimmy is a very important person in my career as he has been with me from the start. The coach’s valuable advice made me the sportsman I am today. We know each other very well,” Chetcuti said.
“I am always indebted to my parents and the great support they’ve given me throughout the years along with my wife. I am also grateful to all the sporting authorities that I’m involved with and the Armed Forces who have given me the opportunity to train full-time. Perazzi and Kia have also been great with their sponsorships.”
Since London 2012, William’s life has changed as he is now a father of a two-year-old girl – Leah. He admits that fatherhood has left a positive effect on his life.
“I lost a bit of focus after Leah’s birth as I dedicated a lot of time to our newly-born baby,” Chetcuti said.
“Today she is two years old and a great source of motivation. She makes me be on top of my game all the time.
“Sometimes, when we’re together, I say to myself that I want to achieve the best results so that when she grows up she can be proud of her father.”
Maltese in action
Shooting: William Chetcuti Double Trap competition – 2pm.
Friday, August 12
Weightlifting: Kyle Micallef, 85kg category – 5pm.
Athletics: Charlotte Wingfield, 100 preliminary round – 4.55pm.
Swimming: Nicola Muscat, 50m freestyle – 6pm.
Saturday, August 13
Athletics: Luke Bezzina 100m preliminary – 2.30pm