January 31 2015 Latest news:
By CHRIS HILL
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
After 20 years at the peak of his sport, Dereham marksman Mick Gault has retired as the joint most decorated Commonwealth Games athlete of all time – prompting discussions on how his history-making exploits should be celebrated in his home town.
The veteran marksman travelled back from Glasgow with his 18th Commonwealth medal, won at the 10m air pistol event on Saturday, which drew him level with the tally of Australian shooter Phillip Adams.
After that emotional success, he declared his mission as “job done”, having come out of retirement for one last shot at the record.
The 60-year-old grandfather from Toftwood was unable to add to his extraordinary medal haul yesterday, when he failed to qualify for the 50m air pistol final which could have given him a chance to secure an unprecedented 19th podium finish.
But he can still retire happy as the joint record-holder – a feat which civic leaders in his home town are keen to celebrate, with ideas including a sports scholarship named in his honour, or the possibility that Mr Gault could be made an Honorary Freeman of the Town.
Tony Needham, the town clerk, said: “This is clearly a magnificent achievement which demonstrates exceptional commitment and dedication over a considerable number of years. I am sure the town council will want to consider how it could commemorate such an achievement. I believe the council held a civic reception for Mick some years ago following another significant milestone.
“One option this time could be to follow the example of the towns and cities from which the Olympic gold medallists hailed and make him an Honorary Freeman of the Town.”
Dereham mayor Tim Birt added: “It is an amazing achievement – to have retired and then come back and equalled the record is fantastic. We congratulate him wholeheartedly, and we will see what we can do to collectively celebrate this achievement.”
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman suggested a sports scholarship could be launched in Mr Gault’s honour. He said: “Mick is an absolute Dereham legend, and he ought to be an inspiration to aspiring sportsmen and women in the area.
“It would be wonderful to have a Mick Gault Sports Scholarship, to get some local businesses and the council to make a grant every year for an outstanding local youngster to help them with their career.”
Paul Sandford, landlord of the Railway Tavern in Dereham and a former neighbour of Mr Gault, said: “As far as I’m concerned, he should have an open-top bus tour through the town.
“I always thought he should have been shown more gratitude for what he has done. What he has achieved is amazing. He deserves all the applause he gets, and he can definitely come in for a few free pints.”
Mr Gault was born in Sheffield and raised in Carlisle before his RAF career as a radar engineer brought him to RAF Marham in Norfolk
Before this week, he had represented England at five previous Commonwealth Games, in Victoria in 1994, Kuala Lumpur in 1998, Manchester in 2002, Sydney in 2006 and Delhi in 2010.
After an exhausting week watching her husband make history in Glasgow, Mr Gault’s wife Janet said: “It has been very stressful. I think it is worse sitting in the audience than being out there shooting.
“He was disappointed not to qualify for the last event. You know what these competitors are like – they want to win everything. But overall he is very proud to have done what he came here to do. We are just a very, very proud family.”
How do you think Dereham should celebrate Mick Gault’s achievement? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.