WHEN Dan Rivers was first introduced to target shooting aged 13 at a fair with his grandad, he couldn’t have imagined it would one day lead to the Commonwealth Games, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
That chance encounter encouraged Rivers to join Wantage Target Shooting Club, where he was soon at a high level, winning national titles and setting junior records along the way.
And on Friday he will compete in his first Commonwealth Games, representing England in Glasgow.
“If I’m honest, I never realised how far you can go in the sport,” he said.
“I thought it would be a hobby, but from there you can go to World Championships, Commonwealth Games and the next target will be the Olympic Games in Rio in two years’ time.
“It really does open up.”
Rivers will compete in the small-bore rifle, which has air rifle, prone and three position disciplines.
The 23-year-old mechanic is ranked second in the country in all three categories and has been putting in long hours to maximise his chances.
He said: “I've been really trying to up the hours and just get the time in on the range.
“It's just trying to get the time in, I know the quality of training is good, it's just trying to up it a bit more.
“Work have been really understanding with it, allowing me to have extra time off to go to training camps.
“I'm just trying to cram in every little bit now up until leaving for Glasgow.”
But although the Commonwealth Games will be the first time Rivers has competed at a major multi-sport event, he already has precious experience of the high-pressure environment after taking part in the Olympic Ambition programme in 2012.
And for Rivers, this year’s Commonwealth Games will bring him another step closer to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
He said: “The Ambition programme really does give you this ambition.
“It highlighted the athletes that had been in the programme before, where they got to in London and it really makes you realise that you can do it.
“From there I’ve just had the drive and desire to prove that I am good enough for the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s a massive platform in itself and it’s also the springboard to go up to the next level – to actually shoot for Great Britain at the Olympics.
“There’s no reason why I can’t go on to Rio and compete there myself, so after being selected for the Commonwealth Games it's just relief, joy and excitement at what's to come.”
SEE tomorrow’s Oxford Mail for a special interview with Dan Rivers and Ben Watson.
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