5 Golds and 1 Bronze for Tara in the Island Games

Tara has written a summary of her recent experience competing in the Guernsey Island Games, which can be seen below. We are very proud of Tara's achievements. Well done Tara!

"The Island Games are over but the memories, lessons learned and meeting of like-minded athletes remain.

This was my 2nd Island Games and I think there was more pressure this time. Having won Gold and Silver medals at the 2011 Games, there was an expectation to do better this time round, I had expectations on myself to perform at my best and win more medals of a better colour than before, also expectations of team mates, club members, family and Guernsey as a whole.

I don’t feel that I performed at my absolute best, but the hours and hours of training and thousands of rounds I have shot down the range over this year certainly paid off. Whilst I shot scores below what I have been capable of in practice, my level was high enough in competition because of that training, to out shoot our competitors. I was delighted to win individual Gold medals in my two main events setting a new Games record in the standard pistol event which is a 60 shot match divided into 3 parts of 20 shots, where 5 shots are fired in 250 seconds, 5 shots in 20 seconds and 5 shots in 10 seconds. I also took team Gold with my team mate Nikki Trebert in both and also in the air pistol team event. The individual air pistol competition was a different matter, whilst I topped the board in the qualification round, the nerves got the better of me in the elimination final and I ran out of time on one shot. It was disappointing because during the week in other competitions I’d fired one shot in 3 seconds and yet I couldn’t fire one air pistol pellet in 50 seconds. I had a good run all week and it shows you can’t win them all, you cannot however train for the feelings you get in a final, elevated heart rate, knots in the stomach and a shaking hand and a finger that just won’t pull the trigger because your brain won’t let you.

I think a personal highlight was winning a team Bronze in the 50m free pistol open event which until now had always been a men only competition, but is now open to women. I placed 4th individually, shooting against a Gotland world ranked shooter who won Gold with a score of 554 to my 519. But the combined score of the Guernsey team put us in Bronze medal place. The joy was short lived because due to a decision made earlier in the week in an open team air rifle competition where a team made up of a man and a woman were disqualified, an island put in a protest after the free pistol result, because why could a man and woman team in free pistol open team event win and not be disqualified? Senior technical officials met the Island Games officials to clarify what open team competition meant per ISSF rules (the ISSF is the governing body of ISSF shooting events), following that meeting it was agreed that the free pistol competition had been run per the rules and that their previous decision in the air rifle where they supported the decision of the air rifle organiser had been wrong. Finally on Thursday we were able to claim our Bronze medals.

It was a very successful games for me, winning 5 Golds and 1 Bronze, the same as one of our full-bore pistol shooters. In total out of the 54 Gold medals the whole of Team Guernsey won, and of the 16 won by the shooting group as a whole, 11 were won by our team of pistol shooters.

Reflecting back now, I have identified areas which I need to work on and have learned some valuable lessons. I intend on keeping up my shooting practice post Games, but not as much as to aggravate the carpal tunnel problems which started just before the Games.

I am so pleased and proud to have represented our island at a home Games, the support of the whole of Guernsey public, the hundreds of volunteers and those behind the scenes has been amazing! A big thanks also for the support from my employer in allowing me flexibility to train and work around my competitions, and also all the Elysium staff who followed my events and gave me a cheer when I came back to the office. It has been amazing and something I will remember as a highlight of my shooting career."

Photographs courtesy of Amy Woodland.