A very proud dad | Dave's Blog
Published 21 August 2016 (AEDT) | Author Dave Jones
Dave Jones - Aislin Jone's dad (shooting)
A few days have passed since the conclusion of the shooting events, and Lynne and I took the opportunity to get away for a few days before Aislin returns. It gave me some time to reflect on the last few weeks, particularly the 12th August when Aislin competed, and the past few years which have lead up to it.
In 2012 when Aislin decided she wanted to represent Australia at the Olympics she was demonstrating prowess as a volleyballer, and in shooting. She had to make a choice. It wasn’t a decision she took lightly and it wasn’t easy either, she had great coaches in both sports telling her she could go a long way.
It was a decision that once made was to change the rest of her life.
It’s been said a lot that her goal was Tokyo and beyond, it was and still is, but the decision to choose that path means she can already call herself an Olympian at just 16 years of age having competed in Rio.
That experience will live with her for a lifetime and what she has learned about herself from the experience will stand her in good stead in competition and life from this point on.
The lead up to the event was stressful here at home. I’m generally on edge for a few days before a big event but nothing like this. I really don’t know how Aislin manages it.
Watching Catherine Skinner and Laetisha Scanlan shoot their way into the semifinal, and Catherine take the gold medal was a spectacularly special moment.
There was much clapping and cheering in our lounge on this side of the world as she stood there and took in the result of the last shot.
On the other side of the world Aislin watched on from the stands and the enormity of what she saw wasn’t missed. One of her first comments in the phone call that followed was that, “Catherine’s life just changed in an instant!” Never a truer word spoken.
Adam Vella & Mitchell Iles’ results ticked over on the iPad as Aislin chattered by text from the range. Mitchell’s will also be an exciting career to watch in coming years.
James Willett shooting an Olympic record in qualification and getting to see him compete on the TV coverage was awesome too. What he’s achieved at just 20 years of age is awe-inspiring. Keith Ferguson’s top 10 finish and Paul Adams’ results were followed closely too.
Watching scores update online for all of the shotgun shooters in the absence of TV was frustrating, particularly when the TV coverage was so broad in other events. Frustration about lack of vision aside, having gotten to know Aislin’s team mates over recent years it was exciting to see them all attempting to fulfill their ambitions, and even this far away it was hard not to feel a bit of their pain knowing how hard they’ve worked.
Clay targets are fickle foes, and you are competing with yourself for an overall result. One target here or there, on one or two days at this level in the sport has a major impact, despite being insignificant in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of targets these eight athletes have shot in the past four years to get here.
On the night of Aislin’s event all we could do was to watch her scores clock over online. In one respect it seemed anticlimactic without being able to see it happen on the box. On the other hand Aislin was achieving her dream, which was exciting to watch however we got to see it as her family.
Aislin finished 17th at the conclusion of the qualification rounds. The numbers mean little to most people we’ve met. Everyone we know is proud of her for making it to Rio. Many have told us, or messaged that she’s inspired their kids, or that she’s been the subject of countless primary school Olympic homework assignments.
Relatives in other countries found themselves unexpectedly cheering an Australian, and distant cousins she’s never met told their friends that someone in their family was in the Olympics.
The world is a much smaller place than it used to be and social media, despite its flaws, has allowed huge numbers of friends and family to be involved in this journey in some way.
That she’s had an impact big or small on so many people makes the experience she’s had very special and she should be proud of her achievements.
Since her event she’s relaxed into the village and Olympic life with teammates and has immersed herself into the support role for other athletes. Weight lifting, diving, beach volleyball and other sports had a new member of their green and gold cheer squad. The messages home come from much later at night in Rio and include spectacular night time pictures of events and of other things such as the shot of Christ the Redeemer. What an experience!
We look forward to having her home in just a few days so that we can share some of her experiences, give her a hug and tell her how proud we are of her.
After a short break we will get back into the routine of training, driving countless miles between home and Melbourne and planning out the next 4-8 years with her coach Lauryn Mark.