What’s it like to come down after being a part of the greatest sporting show on earth? Westcountry Olympic pistol shooter Gorgs Geikie tells us.
People keep asking me if I've come back down to earth yet, after the Olympics. At the moment I'm sat around "Cloud 6" and to be honest I don't think I'll ever completely come down to the piece of ground I stood upon before London 2012.
Yet as I look forward to my next goals in life, "ground zero" is getting ever closer. Up until this point, I've put my degree and life on hold in order to do everything I could to achieve my dream of becoming an Olympian. I've had some priceless support along the way from Gregory's Distribution, Helpful Holidays and RUAG/RWS Ammunition, to name a few. Living at home with my parents has meant the sponsorship I've managed to acquire has just covered my competition and training expenses. Therefore I stand today rich in experience but not financially!
With my London Olympic experience under my belt and my performance there that I was disappointed with, as I know I can do so much better, I look beyond 2012. On the horizon are the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the 2016 Rio Olympics, where I would love to achieve the "bling" that goes with the kit when standing on top of the podium! And how I, Gorgs Geikie, can be a living Olympic Legacy for the South West Region, sport in general and shooting.
The challenges I've faced, and continue to do so, are far from what you would think an elite sports person would have to tackle to achieve their goals. My journey to the London Olympics was far from straight; in fact I liken it to literally driving from my home near Whiddon Down (north of Dartmoor) up the A30, M5, the wiggly A303, joining the M3 and into our capital city. And that I can explain at a later date! Needless to say, my endeavours made British sporting history, becoming the first GBR Pistol Shooter to have won a Quota Place outright and competed at the Olympics.
Firstly, it was only as a result of London hosting the Olympics that I and an extremely select number of GBR 2012 hopefuls, have been allowed to have our competition .22 cartridge pistols in the country. When I joined the sport in 2005 from Pony Club Tetrathlon/Modern Pentathlon, I had to go abroad with the GBR squad to train and compete. This law was enforced to all hand guns, including those of the British Squad, as a consequence of the 1996 Dunblane tragedy. And 16 years later the law proves no positive statistics of reduced gun crime.
The law may have allowed me to train in the UK but under extremely strict circumstances, (only at the range at Bisley in Surrey or Bedford and with specifically licensed people present). Both ranges have inadequate training facilities making it more effective to train abroad where the facilities are world class. With this poor Government support of their potential Olympic athletes, it was a lifeline having my transport sponsorship from Team Gregory (Gregory Distribution) to simply train. Yet, now that is coming to an end.
With nine months until the "greatest sports day on earth" took place in London, the Tunnel Target Sports Centre near Charmouth, Dorset became authorised for .22 pistols, reducing my training travel by 200 miles. Fantastic! Devon should be very proud, producing the only two pistol shooters representing Great Britain in the Paralympics and Olympics, Bunny Bunclarke from Teignmouth and myself.
The second challenging factor is that I'm completely self funded. When all your International level competitions and standard facilities are abroad, this not only is costly financially but time-wise away from a paid job as well. Additionally my coach lives in Ipswich, so four-day training camps pull at your purse-strings for his costs alone. The Tunnel's facility support was therefore very much appreciated.
I'm now trying to get onto the path to Rio. Still being a self-funded athlete, in order for all this to happen I'm trying to find further sponsorship and a more lucrative job. This I'm finding difficult, purely due to the economic climate. I'm very proud of the South West of England and its beautiful countryside, landmarks and activities that can be enjoyed all year round. I'd love to be able to promote the region, encouraging all ages to become more active and enjoy this wonderful "playground" we have and the businesses that are within it. Perhaps a series, "Gorgs Goes……." where I go and do a wide variety of activities and visit many different places/points of interest and report about my experiences through articles, photographs and video footage. All promoting the region on a National and International stage, ensuring people come to spend their holiday here next year and beyond. I would like the opportunity to be the region's ambassador as I think I can help, if I have the support to do so. Can you help in any way?
Additionally I'm looking to continue and develop my work of going into schools, communities and businesses inspiring achievement in the face of difficulties, sharing ways to deal with pressure, my Olympic experience and promoting sport and the benefits it can have to your social/working life.
Finally, I plan to run shooting taster sessions around the South West, in conjunction with sponsors. These would primarily be aimed to encourage participation of all ages, genders and physical ability into our fantastic sport for all. Raising the awareness of local clubs, where this enthusiasm can be nurtured and continue. Keep a look out on my website www.gorgs4gold.com for further details.
My journey to London 2012 was a challenging, but enjoyable trip. It's now a point of making my way through the London traffic to Heathrow Airport, to get on that flight to Rio! Do you want to be a part of it?
Please feel free to contact Gorgs Geikie on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would an informative and amusing talk by an Olympian, are interested in sponsorship or think she might be an asset to your business in some way.