Burge surge

Ben Burge
Ben Burge

HOLBROOK shooter Ben Burge will compete at the Beijing Olympics after being named in a 17-member squad yesterday.

Burge, 27, was a hard-luck story of the 2004 Athens Olympics when he narrowly missed selection for his pet event, the three position small bore rifle.

But his outstanding form at the selection events over the past 12 months has given him the opportunity to compete at his first Olympics.

Burge, who is in Germany for the World Cup of Shooting, will join the likes of Olympic gold medallists Michael Diamond and Russell Mark in Beijing.

“I think he’s pretty excited,” Burge’s mother, Julie, said yesterday.

“It has been a big goal for a long time and it’s a big achievement for him to get there. He has trained hard for it and we’re proud of him.”

Burge is the Australian record holder for the men’s three position while he also won silver and bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Both medals were in the three position, silver in the teams event and bronze in the individual discipline.

But the most important selection factor for Beijing was his second placing in 50m rifle three position at the Oceania Championships in Sydney last year.

“He has known for a while, but it was only announced last week,” Julie said.

The former Scots School student took up shooting as a 15-year-old when it was offered by the school as an outside sport.

He first made the national stage in 1996 and after finishing school in 1998 began his progression up the ranks.

He competed at both the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games and has made rapid progress since 2003 under the guidance of Miroslav Sipek.

Diamond, 36, will be competing at his fifth Olympics after making his debut in Barcelona in 1992.

Mark, 44, will also be shooting at his fifth Olympics and will make his return after missing selection for Athens.

He is a dual Olympic medallist after making his debut at the 1988 Seoul games.