MICHAEL Tucker remembers a dedicated and ambitious student determined to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
Penny Smith, a trap shooter from Bookaar, travelled overseas as a year 12 pupil to represent Australia at a junior level and the King's College deputy principal could see a star in the making.
Fast-forward eight years and Smith's dreams are a reality. The 26-year-old will don green and gold as she competes in her maiden Olympic event on Wednesday morning. Smith will tackle the women's trap shooting as one of two Australians alongside another gold medal hopeful in Laetisha Scanlan.
Mr Tucker said he had fond memories of Smith's tenure at King's College.
"I had a lot to do with Penny. As a part of my role I help to look after year 12 and from memory, I think she headed overseas to compete twice for Australia as a junior that year," he told The Standard.
She was such a hard-working and dedicated person, whether it was through her shooting or her studies.Michael Tucker on Penny Smith
"She always had that ambition to compete at the 2020 Olympics. She thought 2016 would perhaps be a bit too soon but by hook or by crook she was aiming for 2020.
"Nobody doubted her for a minute. She was such a hard-working and dedicated person, whether it was through her shooting or her studies."
Mr Tucker, a long-term educator, said the school community was proud of Smith's rise and said she was a strong role model for current students. He said King's College year three and four students were currently undertaking a research project to celebrate Smith and the Olympics and were hoping to watch her compete as a class.
"We're a relatively small school in a country area and for students to see you can make it to be among the best in the world (at a discipline) is lovely to see," Mr Tucker said. "It's about having that drive and ambition and it's great to see you can shoot for the stars with that. It's very inspiring to see a former student doing that."
Mr Tucker said Smith had offered to return to King's College and speak to the student faculty when she returned to Australia.
The women's trap qualifying will begin on Wednesday with the final on Thursday. Smith will also team with Tom Grice in Saturday's team event.
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