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Relieved McIntosh takes bronze

A PROUD shooting tradition was upheld yesterday at Barry Buddon when Jennifer McIntosh took bronze in the 50-metres smallbore prone.

Jennifer McIntosh was thrilled to win a bronze medal after having "shed tears" following her sevent-place in the air rifle event. Picture: PA
Jennifer McIntosh was thrilled to win a bronze medal after having "shed tears" following her sevent-place in the air rifle event. Picture: PA

The defending champion felt under intense pressure as she matched the four medals her mother, Shirley, won during her career. Mum was on hand, resplendent in a Saltire top, to present her daughter with her medal as a forest of Saltire flags exploded among a partisan crowd.

"It was a great honour to be able to present the prizes in the event that I won my own gold in [20 years ago], and even more so when Jenn was one of the medallists," said Shirley. "It was emotional - good emotions. I only found out two hours before the presentation. I might have worn something more subdued."

It was a family affair. Jenn's father, Donald, a former Games competitor, is team manager and said he had to go outside because "I could not bear to watch".

Her fiance, Andrew - she is due to be married later this year - hugged her on the range. Proud gran was there, and sister Seonaid who shot with her in the air rifle on Saturday. Mum said she had watched every shot. A tenor drummer, Seonaid missed playing with Dollar Academy pipe band when they won the Scottish championships in Dumbarton at the weekend because she was competing at Barry. "I'm really proud of Jenn, really happy for her," she said. "Seeing her win inspires me to do better. We have a lot of medals in the family and it's added to the collection."

At 23, Jenn has time on her side in a sport where experience counts for so much. The Kiwi gold medallist, Sally Johnston, is 44; runner-up Esmari van Reenan of South Africa is 32. Johnston shot a Games record of 620.7, van Reenan was on 620.1, with McIntosh on 619.5, very much in touch.

Sarah Henderson from Halkirk was seventh on 615.2

Jenn, from Edinburgh, said "relief" was her most powerful emotion. "I was just glad to come away with something at the end of the day. I'm over the moon to have won a medal. It's just fantastic."

Tears had been shed after the air rifle where she was seventh: "I was digging deep today, thinking I did not want that to be my only experience of these Games. I wanted more than that, and got back into it. I saw my sports psychologist, Kris Dun, and got my head back in the right place. It just came down to being mentally focused, and not panicking, holding my nerve in a pretty tricky wind.

"We work on different strategies when under pressure. There were no crises points. It was fairly plain sailing. I felt pretty calm and confident. Given that I was defending champion, there was always a litte bit of drive to come out and do well. After not doing well in the air rifle, I was keen to come out and have something else to show for these Games."

She ditched her talismanic purple socks and lucky Union Flag pants. "I make my own luck now," she said with a laugh. She and Henderson are back in the three-position event this afternoon.

Jonathan Hammond, quadruple medallist in Delhi and the defending champion in the 50m prone, failed to make the final, while his fellow pairs gold medal-winner, Neil Stirton from Aberdeen, was eighth in the final shoot-off. Both are in the three-position event today.

There is still hope for Angus McLeod, who won pairs fullbore bronze with Ian Shaw. McLeod is lying eighth in the individual final, very much in contention. Shaw is back in 13th.

Shona Marshall from Alford, trap silver medallsit four years ago, confirmed her retirement after finishing a "disappointing" 13th. "I struggled to find the right rhythm, and got a bit emotional knowing it was my last shot. My days of traipsing round the world, shooting are over. I've dedicated the last 12 years to it."

The sport is desperate to learn the outcome of deliberations about a national centre. They are disappointed nothing will be left by way of legacy, except perhaps electronic targets from Barry.

Colin McEachran, a QC who won silver in the fullbore 40 years ago in Christchurch, said: "I am very disappointed that, despite a committment to a national centre from the First Minister, nothing has come to pass. I plan to write to Alex Salmond."

Jackie Stewart, former international shot, is due on the range today and is expected to express a volley of frank views on restrictions on the sport.

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