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Shooting: interview with Ben Kelly

A self-governing British Crown Dependency, with a population of less than Stirling, will send a team of 46 athletes to compete across nine sports at the games this July.

The number selected represents the biggest squad ever from the Isle of Man at a Commonwealth Games but for one of their number the trip to Scotland will be one they are very much accustomed to.

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Scotland is something of a second home for shooter Ben Kelly who will step out on the range at Barry Buddon Shooting centre on Monday, July 28 to compete in the 50m prone event.

The 20-year-old is currently midway through a degree in biomedical studies degree at Napier University in Edinburgh and splits his time between the capital and his hometown of Port St Mary on the Island.

Connections with the host nation run deeper for Kelly whose grandfather was respected poet and publisher Duncan Glen, who was born in Cambuslang.

"I've been a regular visitor to Scotland since I was born, growing up on the Isle of Man with its vast rural areas I appreciate both the lovely countryside as well as the community feel that you experience in Scotland.

"Edinburgh itself is a fantastic place to live with something interesting and fun always happening," said Kelly.

This dividing of time between Scotland and the Isle of Man makes for a difficult balancing act, throw in a two-year old son with partner Nicole and work in the pathology department of the islands hospital during holidays at university, there is certainly plenty to keep the rifle shooter busy.

But preparations for the Games are on track and Kelly puts that down to some great support he has received from Napier University.

"I am feeling confident about my preparations for the Games. The Edinburgh University Rifle Club is extremely good to me, allowing me full access to their 25m indoor range underneath their outstanding University gym facility.

"This provides me the opportunity to fit training in during the week around lectures, when I am back on the Island it is more of a struggle to balance training, work and family time," explained Kelly.

For Kelly the key to keeping things ticking over when back on the island is a structured plan and a supportive family.

"A well planned schedule for each week and a very understanding family help tremendously, allowing me plenty of range time as well as time to enjoy the fun that comes with a two-year-old son." he said.

There will also be a real sense of family throughout the Isle of Man team during Glasgow 2014. Commonwealth Games are the biggest international multi sport event in which the Irish Sea Island are permitted to compete as an independent state. The islands association for the Games is a non profit organisation run by volunteers which relies on sponsorship from mostly island based supporters. Being involved in this team is an honour which delights Kelly.

"To be one of the selected athletes at such a relatively young age gives me a real sense of pride and thrill to receive the recognition for all the effort, skill and support it has taken to get to this level.

"Hopefully with a good result and my first Commonwealth Games tucked under my 'sling' there will be a lot more Games to follow."

The aim for Kelly at these Games is the final of that Men's 50m prone event but the experience of what will be the biggest event he has ever been involved in his shooting career will be a valuable one either way.

"As long as I shoot well and take plenty of positive experiences away from the Games I will be very happy."

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