On July 25, two days after the Commonwealth Games begin, Esmari van Reenen, will look at the skies over Glasgow and wonder just which way the wind will blow at the Barry Buddon Shooting Centre in Carnoustie on her first day of competition.
“I believe the weather there can change pretty rapidly,” said Van Reenen, who will be aiming to win a third Commonwealth Games medal.
“I am expecting some windy conditions there, therefore I am incorporating some training during those conditions.”
Van Reenen is regarded as one of South Africa’s better medal hopes, having won in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006.
South Africa will be sending a three-person team to Glasgow, with Alexander Coetzee and Johannes du Toit joining Van Reenen.
“The other shooters are taking part in big-bore shooting,” said Van Reenen.
“They shoot over various distances from about 300m up to 1 000 yards. I know they are pretty good and stand a good chance to medal in the pairs as well as individual events. ”
Van Reenen will take part in the small-bore events. “I will be competing in the Three Positional (3P) competition.”
As far as 3P goes, it’s shooting in three different positions during a single match: kneeling, prone and standing.
She admitted she had her eyes opened when she took part in the Manchester Games 12 years ago when she was essentially a young farm girl. She had competed at international level before, but it was a step up in calibre, so to speak.
“I probably got a bit scared and intimidated when I saw the other competitors at Manchester, which was my first Games, but I got over it,” said Van Reenen. She got over it enough to take a silver, and then returned to Melbourne four years later to repeat her success.
She took part in the Beijing Games, her first Olympics, ending 16th overall.
She regrets missing out on the London Olympics, where she failed to qualify by a solitary point. Rio in 2016 is her next aim.
“The Olympics are so much bigger and the competition so much stronger than the Commonwealth Games.”
India are the favourites in the shooting competition, having invested heavily in their athletes.
Australia’s Jennifer McIntosh, Sheree Cox and Jennifer Corish will also be strong competition, as will be the Malaysian team.
She has been training for up to three hours a day, four days a week, shooting about 200-250 rounds per session.
“To be a good shooter probably requires a combination of talent, patience, consistency, calmness, perseverance, self-confidence, dedication, timing and reaction speed, along with hold, aiming, breathing, practice, and then some more… oh, and did I mention practice?” laughed Van Reenen
“It is true what they say about 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. Shooting is an extremely technical sport.
“I think I have most of these qualities. I am more rounded off and stronger in some areas than others.
“A shooter should be very fit and strong, with an especially strong core for balance. And we should also be pretty supple for the positions we put our bodies in.”
And they have to know the wind, and how it blows.
“In Manchester, it was windy. It was difficult to read the range flags because they were blowing all over the place, so I focused on a small piece of twine that was sticking out of the floor of the range a couple of metres to the left of me and I used that to determine when to shoot.”
In Glasgow she’ll be riding the wind yet again.