Irish Olympic target shooting

GB Junior International, homecoming

Well, my dreams of uninterrupted broadband access for the entire trip didn’t quite work out – for the last two days I wasn’t able to upload photos or access email. Oh well. Next year I’ll figure something else out.

For now though, we’re back, I’m 14 hours of sleep down and still feeling exhausted and I think I caught a headcold somehow (how? It was 30 degrees in the shade over there for heaven’s sake!) and I’ve a stack of work as tall as myself to get through.

But I’ll tell you this – it was worth it 🙂

Right, so starting with the bits I haven’t gotten through…

The men’s match was on the Tuesday morning:

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Bloody crowded too!

Shane was up for this along with Damien:

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Both did quite well, but the field was better than last year. Shane made it to the finals (his first international finals ever) with 567, but Damien was pipped by one place with 563 and just missed out.

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Shane did climb up from 8th to 6th in the finals while being cheered on by the Irish supporters:

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But in the last two shots, he was overtaken again and finished up back at 8th – but the important point was, he was there in the finals! And he set a PB doing it, so he received a certificate at the medals ceremony later that night.

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And if you think shooting a finals is fairly easy and stress free…. well, don’t look behind you when you’re doing it!
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And what are they all looking at? Your target, projected up on the wall so if you stuff it up, you have nowhere to hide! Mind you, you could just do what Shane did to cope with that…

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The ladies match was the next day and our shooters shot very well – Paula Cunningham shot a personal best for this match

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but she missed the finals by one place, leaving Elizabeth and Susan in the finals, with Susan in third place with a score so closely split with one of the GB shooters that they had to get to within one step of flipping a coin to split them according to the rules. Elizabeth didn’t have her best finals ever, but definitely finished in style with a 10.1 (and lots of loud cheering from the Irish continent), but Susan stole the show by moving up from fourth place to second to take the silver medal and actually reducing Matt and Geoff to tears (which isn’t something that happens all that often!).

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Isn’t that a lovely sight?

And it got better but also worse – the next day saw the Grand Prix events, where Damien took Silver in the men’s match, but Shane suffered horribly on the line when nothing went right for him. That’s a rotten sensation, and there aren’t any target shooters who don’t know it intimately, but the good news is that it doesn’t last and there are always other matches.

The girls had a somewhat similar experience – all three moved up in the rankings but Paula and Elizabeth weren’t happy with their performances (though each put in 370 with Paula winning on countback, and both would have made the finals). Susan stole the show again by storming through to the gold medal position.

And that’s where I got my little treat, because I got nabbed by the NSRA to be the chap who hands out the medals during that night’s ceremony, so not only did I get to see one of our shooters win gold, I got to put it round her neck as well 🙂 Now that’s a memory that’s going to last, and as soon as I get the photo of it sorted out, it’s going up here. For now, you’ll have to make do with this one:

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There were a lot of memorable images from the week, mostly happy ones from after the medals ceremonies:

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Jim and his sister Liz after she won her ladies’ team silver medal

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Susan winning her silver medal in the individuals,

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Geoffrey’s Angels 😀

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And seeing these two bawling their eyes out after Susan took silver and the team took silver and then Damien took another silver and Susan took a gold!
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And then there’s this shot of the Irish and Northern Irish teams posing together after winning their medals (the Northern Irish juniors won the team gold medal in the 50m prone match). It’s images like that that are the whole point of matches like these – all the juniors get to mingle, to have fun together and make friendships that ignore all the political bullshit and pretty soon, things just get better.

So that’s it for the GB Junior International for this year. Lots accomplished, lots learned, lots of ideas on how to do it better next year (yeah, I wouldn’t mind doing this again 🙂 ), and lots of fun had. The juniors all get together in Cardiff again in November, I’m back to Bisley (with my rifle this time) in February for the British Open, and we’ll probably all do this again next August for the 16th GB Junior International.

Of course, first we have to try to have the first Irish Junior International…

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