I think it was meant!
It was only at the last minute that I was selected for the European Cartridge Championships held in Belgrade. After performing well at the Sport Pistol Trials held just 10 days before we departed, Julia Lydall, Victoria Mullin and myself made up GBR Ladies Pistol Team. In reality it may have been last minute selection for me, but in my mind I had been there, visualising the competition and venue etc for a while. I was ready.
The comings and goings of the whole British Team depended on the athlete’s competition days. My alarm clock went off at early-o’clock Sunday morning. Bleary-eyed, the 3-Position Rifle, the Double-Trap guys and entourage, as well as us Pistol Ladies began our morning routine-breakfast, then 45min bus journey to the ground. Who would have thought Super-Sunday in Belgrade would produce a Double Trap Team GBR Gold, Richard Faulds Individual Double Trap Silver. A missed Quota Place by James Huckle in the 3-Position Rifle by a hairs breadth and an Olympic Qualifying score and Quota Place from me!
To give Victoria and her gun’s manufacturers a little more time in the morning to fix what went wrong with it in Official Training the night before, I was able to swap ‘squads’ with her. This put me then on the first of two ‘squads’. Precision is always the first part of the Sport Pistol match, so at 9am feeling a little nervous, not only was I ready, but steady and go! As my Mum said in her text to me when I’d landed in Serbia….”Look out Europe, Gorgs has arrived!”
With the Precision Stage completed by all the competitors, the ‘fun’ Rapid Stage was then to follow. Feeling quite nervous and wobbly, I didn’t make a great start. But keeping my head and having true Devonian will-power and determination, I pushed on through to the end. I was very glad of all the experience I have had at keeping both hydrated and my sugar levels at an optimum performance level. The weather conditions were very hot and humid, so I was glad with the earlier ‘detail’ to finish.
My initial reaction and calculation in my head was of joy, as I had just shot a Seasons Best and when it really mattered! The up then came with a little disappointment, as I thought I had just missed out (by 1 point) on the Olympic Qualifying Standard. Britain being the Host Nation has been given a Quota Place for Ladies Pistol. But there is a standard set by the British Olympic Association that needs to be gained at a World Cup or European Championship to be considered for selection. Alas, with modern technology at our finger tips, a phone was thrust under my nose displaying the selection criteria, which I had just met! Clarification from our Team Manager then put a MASSIVE smile on my face and the ‘hot-line’ to home was opened! I’d dreamt of that tearful joyous phone call home!
Feet back on the ground (well one foot anyway!) it was back to support my team mates as they finished and the Qualification stage of the competition came to an end. Still beaming from ear to ear, two German Officials came over to congratulate me on the Quota Place I’d just won. Slightly bewildered they pointed out that even though I’d come 13th (but just 2 points off getting in to the final top 8) I had won the second of three Quota Places available at the competition. It is a roll-on process, where if the first athlete has already won a Quota Place, it is passed on down to the next etc etc. BONUS! Apparently I’m only the second ever British Pistol Shooter , male or female to have done so!
The Quota Place I won, at this stage is for my country. Therefore Britain will have two Ladies Pistol representatives next year in London. Those two athletes selected won’t be announced until the Final Team selection in March 2012. But now I have a very strong case for the selectors and after a winters worth of training……more is in store!
My smile at this point was beaming! The ‘Devon hot-line’ was re-opened and the bush-telegraph (aka Mum!) worked it’s way around the world to family and friends in an instant! I was whisked straight off to be Dope Tested, where even my Dad (the Dope Tester for British Eventing) would have been impressed with the speed I produced my sample!!
From the moment I shot my final competitive shot in Belgrade, I have been completely overwhelmed by the kind kind response I have had from friends and family etc all over the world. Totally amazing! But the one thing I hadn’t realised meant so much to me, was being recognised and congratulated by fellow International Shooters and those it that field who I very much respect.
Getting to where I am now is just down to hard work, commitment and dedication. Its also largely thanks to the support of my family, friends and sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible. You all make-up ‘Team Gorgs.’ Thank you.