Amber Hill has been hitting the headlines frequently over the past few weeks and with good reason, and yet again the 16-year-old Skeet shooting phenomenon has achieved what many before her have failed to do. On Sunday 15 December Amber won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
This is a huge award in the national sphere that recognises her international triumphs over shooters with, in some cases, decades of major competition experience. But Amber can’t quite take this in yet, she told Clay Shooting: “I haven’t really got used to it to be honest. I still feel like the same old Amber, a girl who just enjoys going shooting every weekend. It’s an incredible feeling to be here with all these amazing sporting celebrities and athletes. I don’t feel like I should be here.”
Amber’s modesty prevails, despite receiving the SportsAid One to Watch award from the Duchess of Cambridge less than two weeks ago. She continues: “The other athletes were incredible, so winning the Sports Personality award definitely wasn’t a sure thing. Charley [Hull] and Dina [Asher-Smith] are amazing and I would have hated to be the one to have to pick between us. When my name was announced, the scariest thing was walking to the stage to collect the trophy. When I was there I relaxed and tried to enjoy the moment and be myself.”
Later in the evening Andy Murray was overwhelmingly voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, just short of a decade after he won the Young Sports award, a milestone not lost on Amber. “I’m so pleased for Andy Murray, he is so deserving of the award. I was really excited to win the Young Sports Personality award so I can only imagine what it must have felt like for him to win the main prize. To think that he won the Young award before and now he’s won the main Sports Personality award is amazing, just to think that it might be me in a few years time.”
From the moment her name was announced as the winner of the Young Sports Personality of the Year award the shooting community recognised the importance of Amber appearing in the mainstream spotlight of a primetime BBC programme watched by 8.4million people. Olympic Trap shooter Caroline Povey said: “To have an achievement in shooting recognised is amazing for other shooters and gives people something to look up to. Amber won a World Cup at just 15 years of age, and I think it’s exciting that she can go on to become better and better.”
Even her coach agrees. Joe Neville has worked with some of the greatest shooters of the past few decades but Amber’s impact on the sport is changing the way clay shooting athletes are seen. He said: “I’ve been coaching her for two-and-a-half years and it’s been steady progress, she’s getting better all the time. It’s very good for the BBC to recognise shooting. A lot of people in the past have deserved it but never got it, and shotgunners seem to get recognition for six months after winning the Olympics or something but Amber is probably the first person that has been on a wider radar. Good shots come quite often but great shots a few and far between.”
All of this comes at a time when Amber Hill is making changes in her career. Last week it was announced that she would become the latest member of the Perazzi MX2000/8 female shooting squad alongside Danka Barteková and Chrstine Wenzel. This means putting her personalised Caesar Guerini down and opening up a new chapter in what Amber hopes will be a long and successful career. “It was a really tough decision to make, especially as I’ve got a few competitions in February, but I think in the long run of my career Perazzi was the right move and the MX2000/8 was the best decision. I sat down with the Perazzi team in Italy who made a few recommendations. I was keen to listen because they really know what they’re talking about, but the final decision was down to me. I will get it personalised at some point but I want to get training first, I’ll probably go with something similar to my old design, but with the Perazzi logo incorporated somewhere. I’m going to stick with Eley Hawk cartridges. We’ve just renewed to a great new contract and though it’s not confirmed yet, there is talk of an Amber Hill custom cartridge. Watch this space.”