Home Seonaid McIntosh, back on top of the world after Tokyo 2020 “heartbreak”

    Seonaid McIntosh, back on top of the world after Tokyo 2020 “heartbreak”

    By indianshooting.com
    Seonaid McIntosh of Greatr Britain.

    Earlier this year, Great Britain’s Seonaid McIntosh won her second gold in the women’s 50m rifle three positions at the ISSF World Cup in Cairo, scoring 469.3. That was just 0.3 short of the world record set by India’s Sift Kaur Samra at last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games.

    World No 1 McIntosh, 28, who won a world championship title in 2018 and earned gold at the 2019 World Cup Final. McIntosh won gold in the 10m air rifle at the 2023 Cairo World Cup and at this year’s edition partnered Dean Bale to secure Britain’s first World Cup gold in 10m air rifle mixed team, confirming the victory with a perfect 10.9.

    Her elder sister, Jennifer, now 32, competed at the London 2012 Olympics and won individual gold in 50m rifle prone at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and 2017 European Championships, retiring in 2018.

    Can you explain the inspiration you drew from your elder sister Jennifer? Given the shooting background of your mother Shirley, four times Commonwealth medallist, and your sport shooter father Donald, were you always destined to take up the sport?

    My parents encouraged us to forge our own paths rather than become shooters but they didn’t discourage us from the sport. I never wanted to shoot much as a youngster because I wanted to be different from my sister. I was often compared to her so I tried to be as different as I could. In the end it was her competing at the London 2012 Olympics that inspired me to start shooting properly.

    How instrumental and important to your future shooting career was the experience of watching the London 2012 Olympics, where Jennifer was competing? Can you recall your highlights?

    It was a very different vibe than what I had been exposed to previously. Many more shooters and not just shooting prone. There were suddenly lots of women competing and people closer to my own age. Jen introduced me to people I’d heard her talking about at home so I could put faces to the names.

    Was this your Olympic inspiration or do you have earlier memories of the Games – in shooting or any other sport?

    I remember watching the Olympics when I was younger. I think the earliest must be Rhona Martin winning curling gold at the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games when I was about six. After that I remember Kelly Holmes winning her golds in the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Summer Games.

    You missed the 10m air rifle final at the Tokyo 2020 Games by four places, and the 50m rifle three positions final by six places. Frustrating or encouraging?

    Frustrating. Extremely frustrating. I was in such a good place and confident (nervous but confident) before Covid hit and during the next year I had no one to train with and no competitions so I just spiralled and lost myself.

    I feel like I performed poorly in Tokyo and really let myself down. I was trying to win and to not even make the finals was heart-breaking for me.

    What are your hopes for Paris 2024?

    I’d like to at least make the finals and feel like I’ve performed within my capabilities. Obviously we all hope for medals.

    What do you regard as your finest achievement so far in shooting sport, and what has been your greatest challenge – so far!

    I think my performances at the World Cup in Cairo this year have probably been my best. I didn’t quite get my world record back but all of my matches and finals were great performances and I can’t really ask for more than that.

    Which is your favourite event?

    It shifts. Before Covid it was three psoitions, then it shifted to air rifle but air rifle isn’t going so well right now so…

    As athletes such as Nino Salukvadze – the first woman to have competed in nine Olympics – have demonstrated, it is possible to remain at elite level in shooting sport long after the age where it could happen in other sports. Do you find her inspirational – and do you foresee going on as long as she has, or longer, at top level?

    I deeply admire anyone who can put themselves through this much stress for so long. I definitely won’t be around for that long. For me there are too many other things that interest me in life that are mutually exclusive with elite sport.