FOR Jen McIntosh, a double Commonwealth Games gold medallist in Delhi and Scotland’s best female shooter, preparing for Glasgow 2014 is inextricably linked to dealing with her disappointment at her poor showing in the Olympics.
“I had a big break after the Olympics because coming to terms with it was a long, slow process,” she says ahead of next week’s European Championships. “Recovering from the disappointment was all about realising that it wasn’t what people had expected of me that was the problem, but what I had expected of myself. I maybe went into it with unrealistic expectations, and that was a large part of the problem.”
McIntosh is a bubbly, confident personality, and no-one was more surprised than she was at how she reacted to the intense pressure at London. That fact has dominated her preparations for next year’s home Games.
“London taught me how crazy the crowds and press can be,” she said. “Normally that attention energises me and has a positive effect, so for it to become a negative thing rather than for me to thrive on it was completely unexpected.” In Delhi three years ago there were few fans and virtually no-one cheering for the Scottish teenager while, in London, even the fact that almost all of the 300 people in the grandstand were egging her on spurred her on. It was, she said, the pressure which she applied on herself that was the issue.
“I’ve been working regularly with a sports scientist, Christine Dunn from the Scottish Institute of Sport, on how to cope with the pressure I put on myself,” she says. “So when it comes to Glasgow I’ll be ready – I’ll understand whether my breathing’s OK, whether my pulse rate is where it should be, whether I’m properly focused.”
After turning 22 last month, McIntosh says that other developments in her life are making it easier to stay calm and focused. “I’ve been to quite a lot of big matches now so I know I love having people cheering me on, that it’s managing the internal nerves that’s the issue,” she says. “But, after London, I’ve got a different perspective on life and shooting. I’m getting married so that’s a priority, while, if what happened in London taught me one thing, it’s that the world goes on after something like that, so there’s no point getting too uptight about it.”