AS IRELAND’s Olympic hopefuls currently chase glory at the London games, a teenage shooting prodigy from Rathkeale is already taking aim at a gold medal in four years’ time.
Ian O’Sullivan, 16, was back home this week after a whirlwind stretch in which he competed in three national and international clay pigeon shooting contests in the space of five days, breaking records and winning titles in the process.
Ian, who has been making waves in the world of competitive shooting since the age of 12, has now set his sights on representing Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Ian belongs to three generations of competitive shooters, and his father Brian said that his most recent success comes as a surprise to no one.
“He’s taking it all in his stride at this stage. He doesn’t even let it sink in really, he’s always just looking ahead to the next competition.
“He won medals in South Africa two years ago, and in the sport he’s already well known. He’ll be shooting for Ireland four more times before the year is out.”
Ian’s hectic run of competitions began on July 19, when he travelled to Wales to represent Ireland at under-21 grade at the world championship clay shooting competition, where he shot the highest score of any Irish competitor over two days.
He then travelled back to Limerick on Saturday, July 21 to take part in the NARCG All-Ireland clay shoot at Limerick racecourse, where he represented Rathkeale alongside his father, as well as competing individually.
While the Rathkeale team were unsuccessful, Ian’s impressive individual score of 45 out of 50 earned him a place in a three-way shoot-off, from which he emerged victorious and claimed the national under-21 title for the second year in a row.
However, he was far from finished. Ian then travelled back to Wales where he competed in the ICTSF world and European championships alongside another member of his family – his grandfather, Bill.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday he shot with the Irish under-21 national team, which won bronze.
Over the next three days, Ian shot a remarkable 299 out of 300 targets in the world competition, earning himself gold in his class and silver overall in the international under-21.
Ian returned home to Rathkeale last Sunday for a well-earned rest, but his father admitted that the family are already turning their sights towards the biggest competition of them all in 2016.