Sun soaked success

The Algarve Grand Prix and Portuguese third Cont. Championships were a success story for Britain’s shooters, reports Anita North.

I have just returned from my first visit to O Pinhal Shooting Ground near Faro on Portugal’s Algarve. I was there to watch the Olympic Trap shooters competing in the third Algarve Grand Prix, which was run in parallel to the Portuguese third Cont. Championship.

A good number of British shooters made the trip to the sunny Algarve for this competition weekend, including GB team shooters preparing for forthcoming world cups. Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland were all represented among them.

There were also competitors from Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal. Day 1 of competition was actually slightly chilly, with gusty winds. Some solid shooting saw a good sprinkling of 25-straights through the day.

At the end of the day, 75 targets had been contested. British shooters were in contention including Matt Coward-Holley and Mark Shaw on 72, Ed Ling on 71, and both David Henning and Sarah Wixey on 70. Initially there was confusion for English shooters because the CPSA definition of Juniors is not quite in line with the ISSF definition.

Fortunately, this was sorted before the start of Day 2, with the ISSF definition being applied. Day 2 of the competition was sunny, and shooters had two rounds of 25 targets each to complete the 125-target qualification. At the end of this Ed Ling and João Azevedo were tied at the top of the scoreboard with 120.

Matt Coward-Holley finished on 118. Peter Wilson, Mark Shaw and Mike Wixey shot 117, narrowly missing out on the finals. In the Women’s competition, Kirsty Hegarty and Sarah Wixey shot superbly finishing on 114 and 113 respectively, with Augusta Campos- Martyn just behind on 112.

In the Junior Women Jessica Hayward and Maddie Purser put in personal best performances abroad with 105. In the Junior Men Theo Ling was on 114 and Michael Bovingdon on 113. For the Portuguese third Cont. Championships there were finals for Senior and Junior Men and Women.

For the Algarve Grand Prix there was an open final for the overall top six, whatever their category. Because there were two competitions in parallel, it took some time to sort who was in which final. Shoot-offs were needed to decide finalists and shooting order before some of the finals took place.

All of the finals had British shooters among those who qualified. Ed Ling declined to take part in the Portuguese competition final so he could focus on the final for the Algarve Grand Prix. In the Junior Men’s final Michael Bovingdon and Theo Ling – two junior shooters with lots of international experience – joined three shooters from Finland and one Portuguese shooter in the final.

Matt Coward-Holley took gold in the Algarve Grand Prix

Michael dominated the final in impressive form. He did not miss a clay until his 25th target, and he maintained impressive form throughout the second 25 to finish on a superb 46 ex-50, which gave him the win. Theo Ling finished in fifth place. The Junior Women’s final saw four British shooters in contention.

Lucy Hall, Maddie Purser, Elise Dixon and Jessica Hayward were joined by two Portuguese shooters – Maria Barros and Rita Dias – to complete the final lineup. Again it was a British shooter who dominated: Lucy Hall was in remarkable form, blasting her first 25 targets. She kept strong form for the remainder of the final, scoring 44 ex-50 to take the victory three targets ahead of Maria Barros.

Jessica Hayward finished in a commendable third place, Elise Dixon was fifth and Maddie Purser finished in sixth place. The Senior Women’s final also had a strong British presence – Kirsty Hegarty, Sarah Wixey, Abbey Ling and Augusta Campos-Martin were to shoot alongside two Portugal’s Mariana Serra and Ana Rodrigues.

British dominance of finals continued and there was close, fierce competition between Abbey and Kirsty. Abbey took victory by one target, finishing on 45 ex-50 and pshing Kirsty into second place. Sarah Wixey finished in fourth place and Augusta was sixth. In the Algarve Grand Prix Open final British hopes were pinned on Ed Ling and Matt Coward-Holley.

Ed Ling finished in pole position after 125 targets

The sun was getting close to setting, so it was in rapidly dimming light conditions that Matt Coward-Holley shot 44 ex-50 to take the win. Ed Ling finished in fourth place. The awards ceremony saw podium placings for a good number of British shooters.

Of particular note was the Veterans category, where it was a British takeover – 2000 Olympic Silver medallist Ian Peel topped the podium, with Steve Ling and Paul Culverwell joining him. Congratulations to all the finalists, medal winners and prize winners.

There were shooters returning home with personal best scores, British Shooting team consideration scores, and a trove of medals and prizes. Valuable experience was gained and good times were had. I certainly saw a lot of smiling faces over the whole trip.

Thanks have to go to Stephen Dawkes and Cathie Daber of Algarve Cottages who sponsored the Algarve Grand Prix and are making great efforts to grow and develop the event. The competition season is now getting into full swing. Here’s to more great shooting folks! I’m sure more great performances from British shooters in store.

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