Commonwealth Games medal memories with Shirley McIntosh MBE
As we look ahead to Birmingham 2022 we spoke to Business Studies Graduate, University of Edinburgh Sports Hall of Fame inductee and multiple Commonwealth Games Medallist, Shirley McIntosh MBE.
Name: Shirley McIntosh MBE
Degree: Business Studies (Bachelor of Commerce)
Sport: Rifle Shooting
Shirley McIntosh MBE is one of Scotland's foremost rifle shooters. During her University career she was awarded both a Blue and a Half Blue and was part of the highly successful Edinburgh University Rifle Club (EURC) which won both the Scottish University Shooting Federation (SUSF) and British University Shooting Federation (BUSF) titles. In 1986 she became only the second woman ever to win the overall BUSF championship.
She joined the Scottish training squad in 1985 and British training squad in 1987 and went into compete at GB level in World Cups and World and European Championships (1989-1995), placing in the top 10 at the World Championships in 1994.
Shirley competed for Scotland at two Commonwealth Games (1994 and 1998) winning gold and silver in the first ever events for women only in 1994, and two bronzes in 1998. The gold and silver was the best performance at a single games by a woman at that time and the total of 4 medals was the most ever won by a woman up to that point.
In 1995 Shirley's contribution to Rifle Shooting was recognised with the award of an MBE for services to sport. Shirley retired from international competition in 1998 and became involved in administration serving in various roles with the Scottish and GB governing bodies until 2006. She started the process of modernising the performance training programme for Scottish shooting in 1999 and served as performance manager until 2006. Shirley continues to be an inspirational figure within her sport and continues to shoot for her local club and county.
We spoke to Shirley about her memories of studying and competing at University, her Commonwealth medals and her magnificent shooting career.
Q. How did you get started in your sport
At the age of 14 I joined the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at my school (Dollar Academy). As part of that we had to do a basic weapons test with smallbore rifles, but I wasn’t very good. Wearing glasses made it difficult to do the basics properly. When I went to University, I was wandering around the sports fair during freshers week and spotted a table with a couple of rifles on it. I had no idea it was a civilian sport at that time and when I got chatting to the club members running the stall discovered they were both Dollar FPs. I went along to the club, enjoyed the company of the people I met and the atmosphere in the club and as by then I was a contact lens wearer was able to learn to shoot much better. The rest is history.
Q. Could you tell us about any special memories of the games you’ve attended and your medal win?
The Victoria commonwealth Games in Canada in 1994 were very special. I fell in love with the country, the people were very friendly and the sport was fully integrated with the rest of the team. Our silver medal in the prone pairs on day 1 (with Patricia Littlechild, also EURC and a former flatmate), was an important milestone for Scottish women’s shooting. It was the first time the games had run separate events for women and we were delighted to receive our medals from the Duke of Edinburgh himself. Scotland’s female rifle shooters have medalled at every commonwealth games since then. The gold medal a few days later was a surprise. I didn’t feel that I had performed particularly well and the conditions were difficult, so when I finished top (with Tricia in third) it was a bit bewildering.
Q. What is your fondest memory of studying at Edinburgh?
I studied for a BCom in Business Studies with accounting and my fondest memories are of the people I met along the way.
Q. What is your fondest memory of sport at Edinburgh?
The rifle club very quickly became my home from home and the social circle there became my second family. I was very lucky to land there at a time where a number of recent graduates had stayed to provide support and guidance to the students and to show us that there was life beyond university competition. That generation of the club produced numerous internationalists and I think there were 9 of us who participated at the 1997 Commonwealth Championships in Malaysia.
Any advice you would share for those going to the Birmingham Games?
Enjoy the experience. All the preparation you have done beforehand is to prepare you to go out and do the best you can on the day. That is all you can do, so control the controllables and just go for it.