Attention turned from vaccines to Olympic dreams in the making as Team GB confirmed the selection of four shooters for Tokyo 2020, writes Tom Harle.
Seonaid McIntosh, Matt Coward-Holley, Kirsty Hegarty and Aaron Heading were confirmed for Games debuts as Olympians keep calm and carry on towards July 23.
The British Olympic Association stood defiant in the face of a social media firestorm, fuelled by four-time Olympic champion Matthew Pinsent proposing postponement to 2024.
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"While we continue to navigate the unique challenges facing us as result of the pandemic, starting 2021 with this positive announcement is a strong illustration of how committed we are to the Tokyo Olympic Games," said Team GB's chef de mission Mark England.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto this week said postponement to 2022 is 'absolutely impossible' with Japanese borders closed until at least the end of January.
All four shooting quota places have been filled by the athletes who won them, with skeet world number one Amber Hill poised to win another when Olympic rankings are frozen in May.
European Championships in 2021 in theory offer opportunities for the squad to swell in number, but the 10m events set for Lohja, Finland were indefinitely postponed on Tuesday due to pandemic concerns.
The final qualification events for the shotgun and 25m and 50m events are scheduled for May in Osijek, Croatia, COVID-19 dependent.
"We have a strong team going to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games," said British Shooting performance director Steven Seligmann.
"All of those selected are quota place winners in their own right and they have demonstrated significant performances on a world stage to merit their selection.
"We will be looking to add the final athletes to the team in June once Tokyo qualification is complete."
Of the 46 medals won by British shooters since 1896, not one belongs to a woman, in no small part a reflection of male domination of the sport's medal programme.
But the smart money is on that to change in Tokyo with McIntosh confirmed to enter both the 3x50m rifle and 10m air rifle.
She is ranked world number one in the 50m discipline, the first British woman to hit top spot, and has nearly twice as many Olympic ranking points as her closest rival.
McIntosh said: "Shooting at the Olympics is very different as you will get complete wild cards, people who have never had a major medal before, just shooting out of their skin on the day.
"People have described it as those people don't know what they are doing at the time, they maybe don't realise the pressure that the Olympics has and those people shoot out of their skin. You would never expect them to win a medal but they do.
"The Olympics for shooting can be absolutely mental, you can't ever say that this person is going to win with shooting. The rest of the year with World Cups and World Championships, it's a lot easier to tell. People tend to deal with it a lot differently. But with the Olympics, because it's so big and once every four years, all that added stuff makes it a bit crazy."
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