SHOOTING: NEXT month, Sam Wathen will pick up his shotgun and take careful aim for Beijing.
Athens, alas, is not in his sights. There are no places left, which means one of the country's top clay pigeon shooters must wait a further four years to achieve his Olympic ambition.
Ironically, Wathen, 21, of Earles Lane, Wincham, has the chance to shoot in Athens - but at a World Cup fixture rather than the Games.
'Ah, well,' he said. 'It's Beijing and I'm going for it.
'I suppose if any of the British shooters for Greece drop out for any reason they will need a replacement.
'I could squeeze in that way, but it is doubtful.'
To earn his seat on any Olympic plane, Wathen has to win a World Cup fixture or European Championship shoot, a mere matter of beating some of the best guns on this and other continents.
'It is the only way to win a quota place,' he said.
There is plenty to occupy his Spanish Kemen gun before then, including next year's European Championships in Cyprus and the Commonwealth Championships in India.
The 2006 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi are a possibility.
But before he contests the major shoots on the double-trap calendar, he has to earn a place in the Great Britain team. And before that, he has to attend to the small matter of getting a job.
'I cannot compete without money,' he says, pointing out the World Cups are in Cairo, Athens and Brazil.
Wathen, who has just graduated from Nottingham University, is after an IT position.
'Unfortunately, shooting does not pay for my living,' he said.
'Because of studying for my finals I have not done much shooting this year. I'll start up again in January and get in as much practice as I can.
'If I get on the team - and the early World Cup fixtures might be coming too early - then I'll come up against between 30 and 40 world-class shooters. The standard is high.'
Wathen was fourth in the 2002 World Under-21s Championship, shared in the team bronze and won the British Universities title the same year. He has won three British junior titles.
He will return to a changed sport. Double trap was once the simultaneous release of two clays, but the sport became increasingly hazardous.
'People were shouting pull and firing at the same time because they knew exactly where the clays would be and the shot was sometimes ricocheting dangerously,' he said.
'Now there is a split-second gap between the clays.
'It makes the discipline a bit harder and I have had to adjust my method to accommodate the changes. But I have not had enough practice.'
Cloudside at Congleton is his favourite Cheshire shooting ground.