Birmingham’s successful Commonwealth bid has been tempered by reports that there will be no shooting at the Games for the first time in over half a century.
Shooting sports look set to be excluded from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, reportedly due to the lack of a suitable venue.
This will be the first time since 1970 that shooting has not featured at the Games and shooters have expressed shock after the BBC reported that the exclusion was due to a “lack of appropriate facilities” near to the host city.
Bisley Shooting Ground in Surrey, which hosted the shooting at the Manchester 2002 Games, was apparently dismissed as too far away, despite plans for track cycling to be held in London.
“Big blow to shooting”
Steve Scott, who won two gold medals for England at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014, as well as Olympic bronze in Rio last year, told Shooting Times that it would be a “big blow to shooting” and a “sad start to 2018” if the sport was dropped from Birmingham 2022.
He said: “Obviously we’ve still got the Olympic Games and all the other world events we try to achieve in. But everyone who has tried to get to the Commonwealth Games this year and didn’t, and has more than the ability to win a medal in 2022, are not going to have that opportunity to do so.”
Mr Scott, who is also on the Team England squad for the 2018 Games on Australia’s Gold Coast this coming April, said “off the top of his head” that Bisley is “more than adequate” and “not a million miles away” from Birmingham. He added that his current focus is on the upcoming Games and hoped that success in Australia would help to put shooting back on the programme.
Clay Pigeon Shooting Association chief executive Nick Fellows said the exclusion would “significantly disrupt Team England’s medal quest”.
He commented: “Shooting contributed no fewer than 15 of the Team England medal tally at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and England has won a total of 168 shooting medals over the years — more than any other competing nation and over 20 per cent of the medals available.
“Fantastic” facilities at Bisley
“Fantastic facilities have been offered to the organisers at Bisley Shooting Ground, which successfully hosted the shooting competitions for the 2002 Games in Manchester and the bid team has already agreed to hold track cycling at the London Velodrome, demonstrating that a non-Birmingham venue is perfectly viable.”
Mr Fellows added that there were concerted efforts to persuade Birmingham of the value of putting shooting back on to the programme.
British Shooting said it was deeply disappointed that shooters would not be among those UK athletes enjoying the “wonderful opportunity” of competing on home soil and shared its surprise that the Birmingham bid team considered the Bisley Shooting Ground to be too far away. The Countryside Alliance likewise said that it would be working hard to reverse what it said was a “short-sighted decision”.