Lottery boost for shooter GibbinsSubscribe
Fast Track 05 August 2004
Sarah Gibbins, Team GB’s only female shooter competing in the Athens Olympics, looks ahead to the Games for which she has been able to train full-time thanks to Lottery funding from UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme.
"My overall aim this summer is to win gold in the Olympic trap-shooting event, but I am taking the Games step by step. I ultimately want to get out to Athens healthy, with a good attitude, before I aim to get into the six-woman final. Then I will be able to start looking at the medal contention.
My selection into the team has meant that I am the first woman to have ever competed for Britain in the trap, which is fantastic, but also a little daunting. I have no other women to look up to who have been in this situation before but I do feel honoured and privileged to be a pioneer for the sport.
But I have other great influences around me - I was introduced to the sport by my dad, who was English Open shooting champion in 1987. My coach, Joe Neville, placed fourth in the skeet shooting at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and trap silver medallist Ian Peel and double trap gold medallist Richard Faulds are always on hand to give me advice and help in my preparations.
After the success of Richard and Ian in Sydney, I was working for the sport’s governing body and saw the influx of new members – it was absolutely incredible. Interest in the sport soared and it is just such a shame that in the interim of the Olympics the media interest wanes. We are a very successful nation in shooting, and win medals all the time, but because we are not a mainstream sport we blend into obscurity between each Games.
I used to compete in three-day eventing for Britain, but was plagued with injuries. It was only when I had sustained a dislocated shoulder for three years and couldn’t keep the humerus bone in my shoulder socket any more that I reluctantly gave up the sport. I have such a competitive nature that I had to engage my body in something, so I took up shooting again. It was when I was working for the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association that I was introduced to trap, and that’s where my obsession started.
Shooting wouldn’t be in the fantastic position it’s in now without National Lottery funding that it receives from UK Sport. It means that there is something to strive for, and the sport has got top line athletes at the elite end. I have been able to train full time over the past year, having given up my job teaching in Middlesex. I very much miss the children but being a full team athlete is a major factor in my preparations, and I know come the Games the kids will watch me and I shall wave to them from the telly.
The facilities we now have available in Britain are down to the funding Sport England provides from the Lottery. The national shooting centre in Bisley received a huge grant a few years ago to enable the centre to be set up. Whilst it is quite a journey for me to travel there, it is fantastic and means the sport is centralised. I also travel up to see my coach in Derbyshire, and use the South Wales shooting ground near where I live in Aberystwyth for all my basic training.
I am 34 now, and whilst for some sports this may seem old, in shooting age can be an advantage because it means experience. On the one hand you have shooters such as Ian Peel, who is now 46, who has years of experience behind him, and then on the other hand you have youngsters aged 12 who have great eyesight and reactions. We also have a fantastic disabled team, including Derek Precious who shoots the Olympic trap with one arm. I think this goes to show that shooting really is such an inclusive sport."
Gibbins will be in action in the trap event on 16 August.