Mick Gault is one day away from retirement – and one medal away from equalling the all-time Commonwealth Games total of 18.
The 56-year-old civil servant from Dereham collected his second medal of the Games today, a bronze in the 25m standard pistol pairs with Iqbal Ubhi, which means he has the opportunity of ending his distinguished career with a historical landmark.
The English pair scored 1098 points today, with India taking silver on 1103 and the gold going to the Singapore pair of Bin Gai and Lip Meng Poh, whose total was 1116.
While Gault garners his resources for one last hurrah in the singles version of the 25m standard pistol, Richard Wilson and Mike Babb will be seeking individual medals to add to the silver they got in today’s 50m prone rifle pairs.
The English pair shot 1178 to finish four points above Australia and three points behind the Scottish pair of Neil Stirton and Jonathan Hammond.
Although it is a pairs competition, Babb – by now back in the Athletes’ Village and sitting with a cup of tea watching the England v India hockey match on TV – explained that it is a solitary sport.
“You are basically out there on your own, but your scores are added together,” he said.
“I was several positions away from where Richard was shooting. You have an hour and a quarter in which to take your shots, and it’s up to you how you arrange your time.”
Babb, who won this event at the last two Commonwealth Games, has a mass of experience to draw upon. But he doesn’t believe it makes a huge amount of difference compared to the conditions on the day.
“It doesn’t follow that my experience will be a big help to me on the day. Whatever I’ve done in the past isn’t going to make it a lot easier for me.”
Babb only found out he was a silver medallist after he had signed his card and spoken to one of the England coaches.
“I personally don’t check how the others are doing during competition. I don’t think you achieve anything by it. It’s more important that you concentrate on doing the best you can, because you can’t do anything about other people’s scores.”
The Indian pairing of home hero Gagan Narang and Hariom Singh could only manage fifth place with 1173, although Narang shot 593, the second highest of the day.
“By their own high standards, India didn’t have a good day,” Babb said. “It just shows how unpredictable this competition can be. You can shoot the same four or five times in a row and still get completely different results.”
Babb, a 46-year-old from Coventry who works for a local Sainsbury’s store – “I’m in the fruit and veg section, making sure that all the online shopping deliveries are correct” – will celebrate his birthday on Friday, by which time he will be hoping to have two medals in his Commonwealth basket. But he’s not counting on it.
“It’s a completely new day tomorrow,” he said. “The conditions are likely to be different – it’s forecast to be a bit calmer – so it’s just a case of trying to get down to business as usual.”
In his case, that could well mean another medal.
Michelle Smith, a silver medallist with Sharon Lee in the previous day’s 50m prone rifle pairs, missed out on the podium by one place in the individual event as she finished with 591 points, two behind Wales’s bronze medallist Johanne Brekke, in a competition won by Scotland’s Jen McIntosh in a Games record of 597.
Lee was eighth with 586.
In the women’s 10m air pistol pairs, Gorgs Geikie and Julia Lydall placed fifth, with 745 points, as India’s pairing of Heena Sidhu and Annu Singh took gold with 759.
Clive Bramley goes into the second half of the men’s skeet singles in fourth place on countback after finishing level on points with Australia’s Clive Barton on 73 targets. Richard Brickell is sixth with 72.
As the competition moves into its final 50 targets, Andreas Chasikos and Georgios Achilleos of Cyprus are first and second with a perfect 75 and 74 respectively.