Ed Ling, Wellington’s very own Olympian, is in the final stages of his preparation for the London Olympics which opens for competition on 28th July. Ed is one of the UK’s team of 11 shooters competing in three events which take place at the Royal Artillery barracks in Woolwich. Ed’s event – the Olympic Trap – will take place on 5th and 6th August.
His preparation involves a mix of competition in Grand Prix events against international rivals and shooting practice on the range at the family farm near Wellington. He is coached by his father, Steve Ling, who is also coach to the national shooting team. It was his father who encouraged him in the sport as a youngster, his talents earning him a place with the England team at the age of only 13. Ed now works full-time on the farm and funds his own training and competition expenses with support from his father.
This will be the Ed’s second Olympics; he competed in Athens in 2004 when he was only 21, eventually being placed 25th. He is aiming much higher this time and his most recent success is encouraging: in the recent shooting World Cup in April he became the first British shooter to reach a final at the Olympic test event – eventually forcing a tie for third place in the men’s trap with double Olympic Silver medallist, Italy’s Giovanni Pellielo. In the shoot-off he missed out on a medal by a single shot. He does not regard any single shooter as a particular threat to his prospects in London but Italy, Australia and Russia all have strong shooters on their teams.
According to his girlfriend, fellow shooter Abbey Burton, London should be an advantage in being a familiar climate and because it requires no time adjustment or jet lag. The venue itself is familiar too, having been used for competition in May. The major disadvantage may be the weather. Ed will “definitely pack waterproofs as the range has no cover. The pressure may be greater and media coverage more intense but that’s welcome because it helps to promote the sport.”
And on the day of the competition, what is his routine? “He will get his equipment sorted, have breakfast and listen to music to prepare for his first round at a time drawn at random the previous day.” At the very same time Wellington will be following his progress and cheering him on.
Many of us may know Ed’s event as ‘clay pigeon shooting’ taken to an extreme of skill and precision. Shooters placed along a firing line 75 metres from traps releasing ‘going away birds’ can use two shots per ‘kill’. Each round involves ‘birds’ being fired from 15 traps and is regarded as the hardest of the shooting disciplines because of the speed and distance of the targets. The targets themselves are not clay but a mixture of pitch and chalk.