Olympics: Shooter McIntosh will use London memories to target medals

Jen McIntosh will take aim in the 50m event  her best discipline. Picture: Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC

Jen McIntosh will take aim in the 50m event  her best discipline. Picture: Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC

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Jen McIntosh was the first Briton in action at London 2012. The welcome into the Olympic fray was louder than she could ever have imagined.

The Capital shooter had got herself prepared for the pressure. She’d tirelessly practised to hit a target where a millimetre is the difference between the success every competitor craves and the kind of failure that creeps into nightmares.

But nothing had her ready for the roar of home support that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing in salute.

“I went: ‘ok, they’re going to do that. I can’t stop them.’ And it was great,” she recounts. “It worked out really well. Because the applause was for me, it kept within my rhythm.

“It didn’t interrupt my shoot. And I was thinking: ‘everyone else is going to hate this’. I had to find positive ways to deal with it.”

It didn’t ultimately match the accomplishments of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi when two golds and a bronze sent the then-teen on her way to eventually surpassing her mother Shirley to becoming Scotland’s most successful-ever competitor at the event.

But it has left her well-equipped for what sits in store in Rio when the 25-year-old bids to transfer hour after hour of practice in the bowels of Meadowbank Stadium into a performance she will never forget.

Most who use the facility on London Road complain about its age, how it needs an urgent facelift, that it should be ripped down and re-built from the ground up.

Not McIntosh, or the training group, including her younger sister Seonaid and their coach Donald, that has made a concrete sealed room their second home since the 50 metres range was installed there ahead of Glasgow 2014 with an investment from Sportscotland.

There are electronics kitted out from one end to the other with a wall of targets readily in her sights.

“Compared to what I had in Aberdeen, this is amazing,” she says. It’s also where she has got herself fighting fit for the sweltering heat of Rio where the shooting range will be close to 25 degrees even when she lines up in a morning sessions.

“You need to have core strength, balance and the stamina to lie in positions for a fair amount of time. Two hours is a long time to put yourself mentally and physically through something, particularly in a hot climate like Rio.”

It’s meant giving up a little to get a lot back. Less time with friends and family – and her beloved dog. More time on the road.

She has, however, squeezed in completing her degree in make-up at Edinburgh College, with one eye open to what might lie beyond her competitive career.

“I would love to get into the TV and film industry, particularly around doing special effects. But there’s a lot more training required if I want that and there isn’t the time scales that would fit in around shooting. That’s got to be the priority.”

Next week’s three-position 50m event is top of her Olympic bucket list. It’s her best shot, if you’ll pardon the pun, of realising the ultimate dream. “I’ll take aim and see what comes of it”, McIntosh confirms.

“I could do the best match of my life and not even make the final. It’s just a bit like that. I just want to go out and give the best performance. If that gets to the final, that would be great. Winning a medal is the dream, obviously. But if I’m happy at the end, that’s all that matters.”