Gorgs’ Review of 2008 / 09 Shooting Season
So here I find myself at the beginning of September, a time where most shooters are embarking upon a new competition season, but I am just concluding the last. Looking forward to the 2009/10 calendar next year has exciting prospects, with the Commonwealth Shooting Championships (India) in February, closely followed by the European Airgun Championships in Norway. Between this and the World Championships that will be held in Germany at the end of July, are other World Cup Competitions that should have the first opportunity for quota places for the London 2012 Olympics. And if all this wasn’t enough, the grand finale of the year is the Commonwealth Games again held in India in October.
It would be silly to assume attendance at all of the above, as they will be subject to GBR and England selection. But having just returned from our September Switzerland training and England Trials Match week, I am in pole position!
Looking back at my 2008/09 season I feel it has been a truly successful year, with great leaps forward towards my long term goal of the London 2012 Olympics.
With a good winters training behind me before Christmas, I began my International season at the Pilsen Grand Prix, CZE. Being the last match of the competition, with the qualification stage at 7pm meant that I needed to strike the fine balance of delaying tacks in the morning (in the -13oC temperatures outside), with saving my energy for the evenings performance! But in true style this was achieved, shooting an International PB of 383 / 400 and going into the final in first place! At 9pm the final began and by 9.30pm I was standing on the top of the podium! This really set the standard and my intensions for the year!
With my main focus for 2009 being the two European Championships (the first for Air and the second at the end of the season for Cartridge) and the World Cups in Munich and Milan, I stepped forwards to Munich. What a memorable competition that was!
It is a rare occasion that the Rifle / Pistol competitions are held at the same time and location as the Shotgun disciplines, so Munich World Cup was a pleasant change. Unbeknown to me, since the funding cut from UK Sport towards British Shooting, a gentleman has stepped onto the shooting scene to analyse the Double Trap (shotgun event) team and give his management input into the situation. With the lack of money the sport has many jobs have been cut and the hierarchy has fallen apart. So this gentleman was brought in to see where the small amount of money should be spent in order to get the best results as possible.
I have two sporting heroes who I still look up to. The first being Jonny Wilkinson (God!) and the second, none other than Jonnys’ team coach of the Sydney World Cup, Clive Woodward. And guess who was to turn up to Munich as the Double Trap boys guiding light, but Mr Woodward himself! Getting to know my hero was a great pleasure and competing in front of him, awesome! But my Sport Pistol competition went anything but smoothly!
It began with the ‘Precision’ stage, where I was feeling positive going into with a good days ‘Official Training’ the day before. But upon looking at the computer monitor after my first practise shot of the competition, I couldn’t understand why my shot appeared to have just made it on to the bottom of the target! Quickly trying to alter my sights, I soon realised it was out of my hands. Getting the Range Officers’ attention I claimed a ‘broken gun’ and Peter (my coach) took it to the Pardini stand to get it fixed. (Phew! Being the usual smiley ‘chat up the slightly elderly officials helped that day!) With the gun in fighting form I was luckily able to be added onto the next detail of competitors, where I then went onto shoot a very respectable score! This was not all…………….
The following morning came the ‘Rapid’ stage, (the fun bit as I call it!) with the ordeal of the day befores’ shenanigans behind me! I loaded the gun for the practice series normally and came up to shoot the first shot. Awaiting for the target to face again I raised the pistol, only to pull the trigger with a ‘phutt’ and no shot fired! Getting the feeling of de-ja-vu, I raised my hand and claimed another broken gun! My firing-pin had broken. So whipping it off again to the Pardini stand it was replaced in a flash and once again I joined the following detail to undergo the second half of my match. Baring in mind this is a World Cup and the problems I had, I equalled my International Match PB finishing in 15th place, but on the same score as 12th and was only four points from the final! Brilliant! ……………..what a lot to write home about!
My next memorable trip of 2008 then took me back to Zurich, where at a training camp I had an excited Mother on the end of the telephone! A month or so prior to this Swiss trip I was told about a competition called ‘Great Britons’ that British Airways was running in the lead up to London 2012, due to the airline being one of the major sponsors. So thinking it was worth a shot, I applied on-line in the middle of the night having returned from work and thought nothing more of it. A short time passed and discovered I had just missed out on being short listed. But as they say, it’s not ‘what’ you know but ‘who’ and a great family friend who worked for British Airways had rung home to me to re-apply straight away as I was nearly there! Upon hearing this, I grabbed a few minutes of internet time in the hotel and re-applied.
To cut a long story short, I was short listed along with five others. The public was then needed to vote for me on-line, to which overwhelming support in the form of over 1000 votes came my way from all corners of the world. And finally with the judging completed, I won!
BA not only sponsored me a single flight to the place in my application (Zurich for training) but a further two and a Panasonic video camera to capture the next few years! Almost the best thing that came out of the competition was the publicity I received, one and all hearing about the difficulties a British Cartridge shooter faces even though Sport Pistol is an Olympic discipline! My word and picture was not only heard and seen in South West, (Spotlight) but Nationally and Internationally, crossing the pond to America where I was featured in the Wall Street Journal and on radio!
My ambition of my own website was also realised with the help of Steve Roebuck. I really can’t thank him enough for his continued time and efforts, as I feel it is a pivotal point in keeping people in touch with my ventures and encouraging support. (www.gorgs4gold.com)
Flying high, my Major Match season was not quite over, with preparations still in place for the European Cartridge Championships in Osijek, Croatia climaxing my year. With my lifestyle able to focus on my shooting performance, kindly the Colton’s at Fingle Bridge Inn, Drewsteignton and Colin and Fran Davy at the Ring O’ Bells, Chagford, were able to once again be so fantastic and give me time off for another shooting adventure. With their flexibility I was able to combine a training week in Zurich with a warm-up competition in Hannover, Germany. For the few days between
I stayed in the Swiss Mountains with the Green Family and had a brilliant time training and exploring the local area! We then drove to Hannover where I shot another British Record! But this British Record was a little different, because it was my own Record in the first place that I was raising the standard of! Even though a Minor International I also sealed my first podium finish (bronze) in Sport Pistol and I was set……look out Osijek!
In sweltering temperatures, poles apart from Pilsen, I lined up at on the firing point determined to give it my all and that is exactly what I did! The precision stage went brilliantly with only a small margin of improvement needed, which stood me in good steed for the rapid. A much more ‘spectator friendly’ part of the match drew some my fellow team mates to come to support and not letting them down, I just held it together to complete my competition with another International PB (582 / 600) in 6th place. Completely over the moon, being in the top 8 meant I was in the final!
A short time passed and the eight finalists gathered. Formalities were undertaken and we were individually announced to our places in front of the extremely sizable crowd who had gathered and the TV cameras! After a nail biting final I dropped a single place to finish my first European Cartridge Championships in 7th, but to just put it all into perspective, just one point covered from bronze medal position to 7th! Nothing after 60 qualification and 20 final shots, of which the latter each shot is scored to one decimal place!
Not realising quite the extent to which I had achieved, when returning home I was told that I had become only the 5th British Pistol Shooter in history to have reached a Major Match final. (A Major Match being the European and World Championships, World Cups and Olympic Games!) And merely the 2nd Lady and certainly the first person post the Gun Ban of 1997! All this and not being able to train in my own country!
With the British Laws very slowly changing for those British Shooters aiming for 2012, in May of this year I was able to bring home my Pistol home from Switzerland. This was a fantastic step forwards, but more of a shuffle than step as I am still not able to fire a shot through it, simply ‘dry-firing’ is allowed. A progression in the right direction, all the same.
This then brings me around to September where my 2008/2009 season officially ends. I mentioned at the beginning that I’d just returned from a very successful Swiss training and England Trials Match week for the Commonwealth Game Team next year, with which I used my first British Airways funded flight. A day I will never forget for all the good reasons!
Not being able to take my .22 pistol on public transport, my day started by driving that well worn path up the A303 to Heathrow. (Where the spirit of my poor ‘well travelled’ car will rest in peace having over heated BIG STYLE and blew the head-gasket at Mid Night at Stonehenge on Summer Solstice! Long story, but left Bisley for Devon at 7.30pm and got home at 6am by an AA Recovery guy! All plus no mobile phone!)
To continue…… Being one of the very few times I’ve flown on my own, for the first time this Devonian Lass’s destination was Terminal 5’s Long Stay car park. This I was able to pay for with the kind sponsorship I’ve gathered over the past couple of months.
Catching a bus to the Terminal was a breeze, where I met up with Nick Moorish, a photographer for British Airways. Not quite Posh Spice, but still made to feel like a celebrity, Nick photographed me in the middle of the huge check-in hall proudly wearing my British Airways t-shirt! I would be lying if I said the crowds gathered, but those photos will be another to add to the ‘Hall of Fame’ the Geikie’s call the downstairs loo!
Check-in was my next task, which usually with a gun would be a nightmare, but with Terminals 5’s very efficient procedure I was through in no time at all. Even with time spare to browse the fantastic shopping facilities!
Casually boarding the plane, I was greeted by the cabin staff (by name) and ushered onto the flight deck, where the Captain wanted to speak to me. This debatably was my days’ highlight up until this point, seeing all the controls and meeting those that guide the highly engineered bird of the sky I had so often passenger! A lovelier team of people I couldn’t have met made me feel so welcome and special. Finding my seat and thinking my day couldn’t get any better, I was lead to the front of the plane, where a seat in First Class had my name on!
As I was tucking into my delicious meal, the Captain came onto the public address system informing us of out travel progressions. Then going very red in the face as people turned to look at me, he continued “and on this flight we are please to welcome Georgina Geikie,” and elaborated about my story that once again put me on cloud 9 ½!
Reaching Zurich we disembarked the plane and I was bared farewell with a hand shake from the Captain and a “good luck” from the crew and I set foot on Swiss soil with my head held high!
What a year 2008/09 has been and so exciting to think the efforts I’m putting in are really paying off, thanks to my amazing support team in my Parents, Friends, places of work (Fingle Bridge Inn, Drewsteignton and Ring O’ Bells, Chagford) and kind kind sponsors, to whom all this wouldn’t be possible. Finally and importantly, thank you to Arthur Harvey, Budleigh Farm Moretonhampstead and Bernard and Yvonne Rendle of Okehampton Rifle Club for providing first class facilities and advice to not only train within, but improve. Unquestionably my thanks also go to Peter Flippant, Tom Redhead and Paul Taylor for coaching me to success, we’re not quite their yet. But this year has been a definite step closer to the stage on which I want to excel, the top sports day they call the……London 2012 Olympics!