Glasgow 2014: Family affair for Seonaid McIntosh

Seonaid McIntosh says it will be 'weird and scary' competing against her sister. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Seonaid McIntosh says it will be 'weird and scary' competing against her sister. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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SHE may have been selected for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games but, right now, Seonaid McIntosh doesn’t seem to be a shooter seen in her own right.

The 18-year-old tends to be described in relation to her kith and kin. To some she is the younger sister of Jen, who claimed two golds and a bronze at the Delhi Games four years ago. To others, she is the daughter of parents David and Shirley, with dad the head of British Shooting, while mum has a full set of medals through participation in the Games at Victoria in 1994 and Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

The quirky Dollar Academy pupil does not seem bothered by what might be termed the ties of family, as much as family ties. Perhaps because, until relatively late on, as a drummer at school she didn’t seemed bothered about following in the footsteps of her nearest and dearest – despite that appearing preordained by bloodline, with her grandfather also shooting at local level.

“Until I was about 15 I wasn’t going to do it at all, because it was Jen’s thing. And then she went to Delhi and did really well. And I was like ‘actually… I might give it a go’. I shot before that. I shot at school, but I always thought I would shoot at school but not do anything like she does.”

The individual aspect of shooting allows it to be a “family thing, but also my own thing”, she says. The possibility of playing second fiddle to her sister might have played a part in arriving late to the shooting scene and the younger McIntosh certainly doesn’t hold back on the familial out-doing that looms large in her thoughts.

“I beat her once at prone, but that was a fluke. Never at air rifle,” she says, with 10m air rifle and small bore rifle the events she will be competing in.

“I have got my sights set higher and, hopefully, I can beat her on the way up. I am more competitive with her than she is with me… because she is so much better than me. If I beat her then maybe I will have won it.”

The pair have their moments and Seonaid baulks at the prospect of them sharing a room as they compete at Barry Buddon in Carnoustie. “Hopefully not. I guess we get on each other’s nerves – me more than her I guess. We didn’t have to share a room growing up, we shared a room when I was one or something like that, but I don’t remember it. She is five years older than me though, so she remembers it.”

Initially describing it as “weird and scary” that she will be in direct competition with her sister, for all the ribbing and the rivalry, Seonaid admits the bonds that run deep won’t make it easy to cope with that at such a high-profile event.

“Sometimes it is difficult [to be up against her]. I reckon if I beat her it is probably going to be really difficult for a few days afterwards. But I think she would be happy either way. I tend to come second quite a lot though.

“If it was a gold and silver medal that wouldn’t be the end of the world. She said to me the other day that she wanted us to be something like the Brownlee brothers, she didn’t really care which colour it was, as long as it was first and second [the Brownlees were first and third in the London Olympics triathlon]. I thought, yeah, that is a good way to think. I think it is possible for a medal. If I shoot my best a medal is definitely in my sights.”

Seonaid’s sights were first trained behind a gun at the age of nine, but with no pressure. “I was at a Scottish shooting event and my dad was like ‘here you are, give it a go. You are old enough’.

“I am not sure if I was a natural from the very start. I think so, probably. I was okay at prone then started the air rifle 18 months ago. My parents said ‘if you want to do it, it is your choice’. They never pushed me into it at all. I think there probably is a whole genetic expectation for me to perform well but I am just kind of ignoring it.”

Another thing she has had to deal with is arthritis in her knee, the problem having disrupted her schedule earlier in the year.

“No one in my family has got it, it just so happens. It doesn’t really affect my hand or fingers, not at the moment, it is just my knee. I do sometimes get pain getting up and down to do the prone, but in the Games I am shooting air rifle so I am standing up. I don’t let it bother me anymore.”