One more Olympic chance for Dereham marksman Mick Gault
Veteran Dereham marksman Mick Gault remains confident of fulfilling his lifelong dream of shooting at the Olympics, despite an unsuccessful first attempt at qualification for 2012.
The 57-year-old pistol shooter is England's most successful Commonwealth Games competitor with 17 medals, including nine golds.
But he has never qualified for the Olympics, due to the 'quota' system which allocates limited places to national shooting federations based on performances at selected championships – meaning the best shooters from any specific country are never guaranteed a place.
Last month, Gault was tempted out of retirement by the prospect of securing one of three guaranteed quota places for Team GB, offered to the 2012 host nation.
But in difficult conditions at the European Cartridge Championship in Belgrade on Saturday, he missed out on the required qualifying score in the 50m Free Pistol by just six points.
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Gault said he was regularly hitting the 'magic score' of 577 out of 600 in training, and has one last chance of achieving it in competition in Finland in February – this time in the different discipline of 10m Air Pistol.
To achieve that ambition, he has stepped up his training regime and signed up a sports psychologist and a personal trainer.
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'The conditions in Serbia were hard,' he said. 'It was very hot and sweaty and the scores overall were down.
'I also think I was suffering from my 10-month lay-off. I have only had 6-8 weeks training when I normally have 6-8 months. It is a bit disappointing, but it was worth a shot and I did as well as I could on the day.
'But I have got another chance in February. I am working with Jeremy Lazarus, a sports psychologist who has written books on how to succeed at sport, and I've got a fitness guru coming to see me later this month to improve my fitness and stability. I am throwing everything at this, and I have got the time.
'There are seven months to get ready for that competition, so I will be well over the top of that score by then. That is what I want to be doing, and I am up for it.
'I have still got one more chance of reaching this magic score and I can assure everyone that, if I don't get it, it is not because of lack of trying.'
Gault is vying for one of the Team GB quota places with his team-mate Nick Baxter from Bedfordshire. Both need to qualify for the next European championship by making a score of 579 in competitions in the coming months.
If successful Gault, who works as a civil servant at RAF Marham, estimates he needs to raise �10,000 in sponsorship to turn cover his training and competitions in the lead-up to the London games.