Talented England shooter aims to equal Glasgow success

Kristian Callaghan
England’s Kristian Callaghan celebrates (Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Engineering graduate Kristian Callaghan is targeting a medal on the Gold Coast this week…TASS caught up with the pistol specialist as his Commonwealth Games campaign got underway.

TASS: How did you fare at the World University Championships last month and describe the experience of competing in Kuala Lumpur?

Kristian Callaghan: The WUCs in KL were my fourth (and final) FISU event and much like the previous three they were enormous fun but also a tough competition at a high standard. I competed in three events – the 10m Air Pistol, 25m Rapid Fire Pistol and 50m Pistol. My results across the three events were mixed. The 10m event didn’t go well, 25m Rapid Fire was slightly above average for this point in the season and 50m Pistol was a good result for this point in the season. I ranked 30th, 13th, and fourth respectively (slipping one position down from my bronze in 50m Pistol back at the WUCs in 2016). I really enjoyed my time in KL – not just competing but also meeting up with my friends from across the world, some of whom I don’t often see at other competitions.

TASS: How have you prepared for the Commonwealths and did you arrive on the Gold Coast full of confidence?

KC: With the Games being so early in the season (particularly for the 25m and 50m events) it’s been tough to fully prepare for them. For 25m Rapid Fire and 50m Pistol, the WUCs in KL were the only competition preparation available so I did what I could to get all my competition preparation from the 10m event by travelling to Austria, Germany, Holland and Hungary for a series of competitions in January and February (including the European Championships). I feel having so many competitions close together really makes you match-fit and ready for high-level competition. Following my training and competition in KL and the training I’ve done out here in Brisbane, I’m feeling really good for the Games – I’m in fantastic form in all three disciplines!

TASS: Have there been any bumps along the way?

KC: Unfortunately, there have been plenty! I switched to a new 10m pistol in September 2017 and was plagued with problems with it. It took until mid-December and a visit to the factory in Italy to get all my problems solved which set me back a few months in my training. I also had a problem with the sight on my 50m pistol, which fortunately I solved about a month before leaving the UK. The poor weather we’ve had in the UK this year has also prevented me getting to all my training sessions, so I’ve lost three or four days this year to the snow! And to top it all off, following the European Championships in Hungary, a number of our team (myself included) got very ill with a flu/chest-infection type thing. I was lucky that it didn’t hit me too hard, but still cost me another three or four days of training!

TASS: What does it mean to you competing for your country against some of the best pistol shooters in the world?

KC: It’s an absolute honour and I’m privileged to be a member of Team England for the Gold Coast Games. I’m delighted to be able to compete under their banner and cannot wait to do it again following Glasgow 2014!

TASS: Where will your main competition come from on the Gold Coast in the quest for a medal?

KC: India – without doubt! Since Glasgow the Indian team have improved a lot, with a lot more athletes competing at a very high standard. They’ve got two athletes in each of my disciplines who are capable of big scores, and they took away eight of the nine men’s pistol medals in the test event back in November so I’m expecting they’ll take a lot of the medals home! Australia also have one or two athletes who have posted some big scores and won some big titles in the last few years so I’m expecting them to make the finals too.

TASS: During your time as a TASS athlete what were the main benefits of being on the scheme?

KC: For me it was the S&C, physio and lifestyle support. The lifestyle support has always helped me juggle my university commitments with my sporting ones, which has never been a walk in the park. In the last few years I’ve really taken to the S&C and physio side of things and really got stuck into that, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! It’s also showed in my shooting results. The financial awards were also a massive help, as TASS and the University of Bath have been my biggest financial supporters (outside of my parents)!

TASS: Can you point to a specific example where TASS support proved to be particularly useful?

KC: TASS really helped me during the 2017 season when I was qualifying for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The regular S&C and Physio support I was receiving helped me to start that season at a much higher level than I normally would, so that the rest of the season picked up really well. As a result, I hit the qualifying standards more than 20 times!

TASS: How important is TASS overall in terms of supporting emerging athletes and helping them to achieve their sporting ambitions?

KC: Absolutely key! TASS provides not just a level of support within each of its services that’s world class but also brings all the services together in a coordinated way, making you feel like you’ve got a full programme and support team behind you in all areas. It’s perfect for emerging athletes who don’t have this support yet from their NGBs.

TASS: Can you describe how it feels to represent your country at international level?

KC: It’s a fantastic feeling! It makes it worth all the training and hard work when you’re stood on the range knowing you’re representing Britain or England, showing the world what you’re capable of. It can also be pretty stressful at times because you want to do your absolute best every time. And it doesn’t always turn out that way!

TASS: When you’re in Australia will you have time to watch any other sport…and if so what will you have your eye on?

KC: I won’t have much time to watch anything else as my events finish only a few days before the closing ceremony, but I think I’ve got some tickets for badminton (which is something I’ve really loved playing recreationally throughout my time at University) and lawn bowls. I’m sure I’ll see a few other sports on TV too!