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Lakeview senior, skeet shooter looks toward 2020 Olympics

POSTED: May 16, 2017 1:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Samantha Simonton

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Samantha Simonton dreams of standing on the highest podium with a medal around her neck at the 2020 Olympic Games, listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner” over the loudspeakers.

“I’m so tired of hearing Italy’s national anthem,” the 17-year-old said.

The Lakeview Academy senior took her first shot a month before her eighth birthday. She was already a competitor, wanting to beat the record of a friend who shot his first deer at 8.

Since then, she has won four state titles for skeet shooting, which involves shooting a flying clay disc from a certain distance to achieve points.

“I hold myself to a very high standard,” she said.

She started training for international skeet Jan. 1, 2015, and her first competition was Jan. 18, 2015. International is much more precise than American skeet and about twice as fast.

“It was a sink or swim situation,” Samantha, who lives in Gainesville, said.

She practices six days a week, either an hour away in Watkinsville or at her trainer’s house in Eatonton two hours away. She rests Thursdays.

“It’s very mentally draining, but my shoulders are ripped,” Samantha said.

The teen will attend college starting this summer at the University of Colorado, as well as train with other athletes at the school’s Olympic facilities in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Everything (at the facilities) will be at my disposal,” Samantha said.

However, Samantha said she is a Georgia Bulldog through and through and plans to finish her college career at the University of Georgia.

While Samantha is dedicated to her craft and building her skills, she’s realistic.

“You can’t make a living off of skeet shooting,” she said.

Ever since she was young, her parents instilled in her the importance of academics over sports.

She has a few ideas in mind for a career, among them military trauma surgeon and veterinarian.

“I want to still have a life, but I want to fix people,” Samantha said.



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