Behind the scenes of Olympic success

If a job needs doing, give it to a busy woman. Sarah Daly gives hours of her time to make sure team GB runs smoothly

With increasing hype surrounding the 2012 Olympics increacing and thoughts turning to which shooters will be representing us in London, I had a chat with Sarah Daly – a force behind the organisation of the team.

On top of her day job as a coach, Sarah is director and secretary of the British International Clay Target Shooting Federation (BICTSF), the National Governing Body for international shotgun sports and secretary to ‘British Shooting’. BS is the umbrella body of International Shooting, which acts as the contact for the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) and a channel for funding of the international shotgun, rifle and pistol disciplines for able-bodied and disabled shooters, which in turn covers all our Olympic involvement.

Having grown up with horse Sarah now devotes a great deal of her time to promoting shooting sports

Sarah’s BS role is varied; as well as attending, working closely with the CEO and chairman of the board and handling the admin, Sarah is the main contact for shooting’s Olympic FTSE 100 partner, Lloyds Banking Group, which is enthusiastically involved with the progress and development of shooting as a sport.
On top of that, Sarah is dealing with the all important ticket allocation for shooting sports, which has meant processing and distributing all the requests for British Shooting’s Olympic ticket allocation. For Sarah, this has meant a great deal of frustrating calculation in order to work out how many tickets to ask for in the first place – let’s hope there’s no confusion with the synchronised swimming!

Over the last few years Sarah’s commitment to the development of the international shooting disciplines has increased as director and secretary of the BICTSF, which has responsibility for team selection of the international shotgun disciplines, namely Olympic Trap, Olympic Skeet, Double Trap, Universal Trench, Hélice and FITASC Sporting.
Sarah’s role in the BICTSF is demanding, and although it is necessary for her to keep the two associations carefully separate from each other in her work, there are obvious advantages to having a foot in each door when it comes to spotting potential problems. Sarah’s position provides her with an ideal stronghold as negotiator and liaison between the two organisations.

Sarah made it clear that there are those who influence the decision of who will represent Great Britain on the ranges at the 2012 London Olympics, although it is the British Olympic Association (BOA) that picks the final team for all sports.

I asked Sarah to explain more about the UK Sport funding. She explained that it goes directly to those considered to be potential Olympic medallists. The Olympic Performance Group (OPG) is responsible for strictly monitoring individual performances of funded athletes, it is only these few named athletes who are entitled to the development funds on offer.

Those with most contact with our Olympic hopefuls is a team of advisors, who assist with detailed points regarding the athletes’ individual development programmes, including diet, vision, physical fitness, mental fitness, equipment and clothing. Then of course there is the team of coaches who walk the walk and talk the talk, continually developing the shooters and providing the necessary tweaking and fine-tuning to the finished product stood on their first peg of their first round of the first day of the Olympics.

Sarah’s contact with the shooters and their families is as someone who can reliably answer most queries, legal or rudimentary, and Sarah says that if she can’t find the solution to someone’s question she will more than likely know someone who will; Sarah hastened to add that she strives to ensure no query is left unresolved.
As the London 2012 countdown gets louder in our ears, I’m sure the increase in questions for Sarah will also swell, especially as she is listed on the two websites as the one to contact for more information.

During my interview, Sarah was keen to stress how much work goes on behind the scenes in order to help shooters attain their goals. Her contacts are vast in the sport and although Sarah prides herself on getting the job done, I’m pretty sure she is continually relying on efficiency from others when it comes to keeping shooters’ records professionally and regularly updated.

She adamantly refused to consider how many extra, uncalculated hours she gives to her two positions in a working week and I have to say, I was totally oblivious to the amount of work done by a dedicated few to make my own championship events run as smoothly as possible. I did suggest, however, that if some of the competitors and family members realised how much commitment and dedication was given by the BICTSF Board members, they would perhaps be a little less critical and a little more positive.
So what kind of person would want to put themselves in the frame for this varied, demanding and time-consuming position and what sort of personality would be best suited to it?

Sarah was raised in an equestrian environment, being the daughter of an Irish horse trainer she lived and breathed horses from an early age, not hesitating to take on the most unwilling of steeds to re-school and enhance her familie’s business.

Her robust and weathered roots have no doubt moulded her into the efficient and assertive person she is today; able to make precise judgements and calculated decisions and using her gift of persuasion and firmness when required for the benefit of progress.

I can only imagine as we move toward 2012 and the Olympic Games that Sarah might be glad of an excuse to get out and pull the trigger at her own targets for a change, continuing her involvement with the Britannia Grand Prix and enjoying the fervent interest from her daughter Christine, who has become involved more recently with the organisational side of some of the events Sarah stages. These events include introducing under-privileged school children to the shooting sports under the banner of The Britannia Schools Project, which has met with great success thanks to Sarah’s dedication to getting the shooting sports on the map, especially with young people, who she has spent a great deal of time and effort coaching.

So as you can see, there is an unsung group of individuals behind the scenes of our Olympic competitors’ performances and Sarah is one of the very well-oiled cogs that makes the whole organisation run smoothly.

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