On the evening of 3rd October 2019, I was lucky enough to attend the Team Scotland 2019 Scottish Sport Awards, an evening celebrating the invaluable contribution Scottish volunteers and clubs make, as well as incredible achievements by Scottish athletes. For STS and the sport of target shooting, it proved to be an incredible night. Across the evening, a total of 13 awards were handed out, with STS being nominated in 4 categories and receiving an honour mention in another.
First mention of the went to Willie McAulay from Alloa and District Rifle Club, nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Award and making it to the shortlist for the final 3. Willie’s efforts over the past 12 months (and stretching much further back) have been considerable:
Throughout 2018, on the back of STS forming and getting shooting more involved within communities, Willie worked with STS, visiting the spinal injury unit at the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on a monthly basis to coach patients with spinal injuries, resulting in some of them taking up the sport when leaving hospital, travelling from Glasgow to Alloa specifically to carry on working with Willie. To help this work, in late 2018, Willie sourced and installed a ramp to allow wheelchair access to the front of the club. In December 2018 the Alloa Club, through Willie, hosted the pilot Disability Inclusion Course for shooting, run in partnership between STS and SDS. Inspired by the course, Willie went on to attend a further course for coaches coaching disabled athletes down in Stoke Mandeville in January 2019.
Willie shows a never-ending passion for the sport and has done a lot to help young people in and around Clackmannanshire and Alloa (and further afield!) and on the back of his work with disabled athletes, this inspired the club and Willie to work more with groups in the community and for most of 2018 Willie coached a group of dwarf shooters who now visit the range monthly for training and have seen a massive improvement at competitions they attend.
Throughout 2018 Willie pushed the club to work with different Scout groups, helping several Scout groups to achieve their badges and have a go at the sport. In early 2019, Willie ran a come and try session for the sports development team at Clackmannanshire Council. Having witnessed first-hand how enjoyable and safe the sport is, Willie is now working with the sports development team to go into schools for the 2019-20 academic year.
Sadly, Willie was not the winner on the night but making it to the final 3 was a huge achievement and acknowledgement of all he does for the sport.
The next mention of the night came under the Sport Governing Body of the Year category. A strong field, STS did not make the final 3 shortlist up against the likes of Scottish Athletics, Cricket Scotland and Scottish Disability Sport, but it did get one of two honourable mentions for some of the work that has been carried out over the last 12 months.
Shooting didn’t have long to wait until it was once again in the spotlight with Seonaid McIntosh shortlisted in the Female Athlete of the Year category after an unforgettable 12 months:
Seonaid has been on top form over the last twelve months. Crowned World Champion in Women’s 50m Prone (along with a team bronze) she is the first British rifle shooter to win a senior World Championships gold since Scotland’s Alister Allan in 1978. She later went on to claim an Olympic quota place for Tokyo 2020 for Women’s 50m 3 Positions, finishing 4th, also at the World Championships.
Carrying her 50m 3 Positions form into 2019, Seonaid won silver at the ISSF World Cup in Munich with two new British records – the first British medal in the event since the late, great Malcolm Cooper in 1989. She then went one better and achieved a ground-breaking achievement for shooting in the UK, winning Gold at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro at the end of August making Seonaid’s the first ever female athlete to win a World Cup Gold for Britain in rifle. Not only that, it made Seonaid the first British rifle shooter to win World Cup Gold for Britain - male or female - since Mike Babb in 2002.
Showing her world class pedigree in the sport, a few days earlier to winning Gold in Rio in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions competition, she won a silver at the same ISSF World Cup in the 10m Air Rifle competition, demonstrating her ability to adapt disciplines and finish with a medal in a world class field in both events.
Other great results from 2019 include a 5th place from the European Games, being chosen as flag-bearer for the British team at the World University Games and graduating with a 1:1. Ranked World No. 1 in 50m Rifle 3 Positions and World No. 9 in 10m Air Rifle, Seonaid was one of the first athletes to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and will be looking to defend her European Championships title later this year.
When Seonaid McIntosh was named as 2019 Female Athlete of the Year a loud cheer went up because she has been such a well liked member of Team Scotland during her time at the Commonwealth Games in both 2014 and 2018. Made all the more incredible given that she was up against such a strong field with Laura Muir (athletics) and Sally Conway (Judo) both incredible athletes and also having had tremendous years in their respective sports.
After a few more awards had been presented, shooting was once more in the running for an award with Donald McIntosh shortlisted in the Coach of the Year category, for all he has achieved over the past 12 months:
It’s been another brilliant year for Donald, with daughters Jen and Seonaid joining GBR’s Zoe Bruce to win team bronze in the Women’s 50m Prone at the World Championships last September. Seonaid then went on to win individual gold in the same event – the first British rifle shooter to win a World Championships gold since Scotland’s Alister Allan in 1978. Seonaid then claimed an Olympic quota place for Tokyo 2020 for Women’s 50m 3 Positions, finishing 4th. Following the World Championships Jen retired, and Donald is now focussed on supporting Seonaid in her journey towards Tokyo. Earlier this year she won silver in 50m Rifle 3 Positions at the ISSF World Cup in Munich – the first British medal in the event since the late, great Malcolm Cooper in 1989 – followed by a gold in 50m Rifle 3 Positions at the ISSF World Cup in Rio in August - the first ever female athlete to win a World Cup Gold for Britain in rifle. She also won a silver in 10m Air Rifle at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in August and placed 5th at the European Games. Currently ranked World No. 9 separately in both 10m Air Rifle and 50m Rifle 3 Positions, European No.2 and British No. 1 she will be looking to defend her European title later this year.
There was a real buzz around the room when Donald McIntosh was named as 2019 Coach of the Year! A thoroughly deserving achievement, reflected by an incredible 12 months against the backdrop some already fantastic achievements in his career as a coach, manager and athlete. Such a well liked and supportive member of Team Scotland for a number of years, Donald winning the award was appreciated by many in the room, not just the shooters.
The evening carried on at pace, culminating in the Lonsdale Trophy for the 2019 Scottish Sportsperson of the Year, where the winners of the Male, Female, Para and Young Athlete of the Year were all automatically entered for the award. It was an incredible strong field featuring Duncan Scott (Swimming), Neil Fachie & Matt Rotherham (Cycling - Track) and Charlie Alderidge (Cycling - Mountain Bike). It marked the end of a huge night for shooting with Seonaid McIntosh named 2019 Scottish Sportsperson of the Year, made all the more poignant with it also being Women & Girls in Sport Week. On the night it meant that shooting picked up 3 awards from 13 categories, winning the most prestigious award at the end of the night.
It was a truly memorable night, celebrating the best of Scottish sport. Massive congratulations to Team Scotland for the event and all Scottish sport for another incredible year, but the last mentions must go to Willie, Donald and Seonaid for an unforgettable 12 months – the 2019 Scottish Sports Awards was your night!
Report by Oliver Barsby, STS COO