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Fired up shottist Kohne sets sights on Tokyo
- Updated: October 12, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
It wasn’t quite a case of third time lucky for marksman Von Zeuner Kohne at the Paralympics but what the Rio experience has very much done is to encourage him to target a fourth Games.
Kohne was part of a South African team that won 17 medals in Rio and although the Gautenger wasn’t part of any podium parade, he was still fired up for another shot.
His first Paralympics were in Sydney 16 years ago and then Athens four years later.
‘I had work issues and couldn’t get to Beijing in 2008 and then I didn’t qualify for London,’ says Kohne.
‘I also stopped in 2006 for a while and then again after the Beijing Games.’ An accountant with a major agricultural firm, Kohne is quick to point out that with him also studying further, the shooting part of his life is very much a hobby rather than a full-time passion.
‘For Rio I qualified in the P3 25m division (0.22 pistol). In the first part of the competition I shot probably as well as I usually do but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough for the final. ‘Then the second session, because I knew I wasn’t in the final, my concentration dropped a bit. So I was quite disappointed in not doing as well as I’d hoped.’
And Kohne is quick to rave about Rio. ‘There was a good deal of negative comment before the Games but from my side, everything was fantastic.
‘The actual shooting range was probably the best I’ve ever competed at-fantastic facilities, the range officers were well qualified, what an absolute pleasure.
‘The Athlete’s Village was great, accommodation perfect and it’s really made me keen for another Games.’
At 46 Kohne was the oldest member of Team SA but in his sporting code age is but a number. ‘In shooting it really doesn’t count for much, there are quite a few guys older than me, with some in their 50’s.’
Paralympic shooting is not exactly big on the African continent. ‘In fact as far as I’m aware there are only two of us, me and another guy from Kenya.’
He keeps his eye in by competing against the able-bodied shottists at the SA Pistol Federation. ‘I can’t qualify for Protea colours (as ISSF rules stipulates shooters must stand) but I’m part of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) so that’s OK.’
As part of his final Paralympic preparations, things hotted up in the last three weeks. ‘I pretty much spent every day shooting. I had access to an hour a day at the Hillfox range during the week, then on Saturday I’d shoot for a bit longer and then would drive out from home in Florida Glen to Carletonville for a few hours on Sundays.’
And the short-term future? ‘Well there’s not much IPC competition next year so it’s basically going to be a year of training but I’m hoping to concentrate a bit more on the rifle shooting for a while now.. I’m still driven to shoot because it’s such fun!’
As for shooting as a whole in South Africa, Mohyedien Begg has been president of the SA Pistol Federation for 11 years now and admits that the sporting code is not as healthy as it was some years back.
‘The Federation was formed back in 1957 and the main office is still in Pretoria. Back in the 70’s and 80’s there used to be as many as 3000 members but over the years that has been whittled down to about 400 due to the Defence Force and Police Force restructuring, the changes in the whole political situation and firearms being destroyed and removed. A lot of Defence and police force members took retirement packages etc and moved away from the sport.
Begg is based in Cape Town and says there are about 100 members of the Federation in this area. ‘The biggest membership is in Gauteng where there are about 200 while we also have a presence in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
In Cape Town shottists fire off their passion at ranges in Ottery in the southern suburbs and Stikland in the northern suburbs.
‘It’s not a cheap sport. Buying a 0.22 pistol (the same calibre as used in the Olympics and Paralympics) will cost you about R30,000 and then of course you need to get the accessories such as a scope etc.
‘A typical day of practice sees one using between 100 and 150 rounds. Ammunition prices range from R70 per R100 which can rise to R250. Generally the ammunition is imported from Germany, France or the US and each shooter has to experiment to find the best type suited to them and their weapon.’
Generally three models of guns are used. ‘The Hammerli is the older type while the Walther is a new kid on the block and now the Pardini is a new model which is taking the sport shooting world by storm.’
Begg also bemoans the fact that sport-shooting is rather off the radar in South Africa. ‘It’s very unfortunate. Vonnie is our only shottist and although we try and help as much as we can this sport just doesn’t have the same glamour in SA as in America, Germany and even Russia. It was a very popular sport at the Paralympics and I was surprised to see Iran putting up a very good showing.
‘We are certainly not a rich federation at all, getting between R100-150,000 a year which needs to be distributed very far.’
What also needs to be spread is the word that sport-shooting is very much part of the national sporting set-up and deserves to be the target of corporate support if SA is able to target more Olympic and Paralympic medals.