Belfast Telegraph

David Calvert still aiming to be best in the business

Evergreen Calvert ready for his tenth games

By Steven Beacom

David Calvert. Ace marksman. Royal Air Force Pilot. Teacher. Gentleman. And Commonwealth Games legend.

Now 63, Full-Bore shooter and multiple champion Calvert is in Scotland competing for Northern Ireland at this level for the TENTH time. It's a remarkable record, and one unlikely to be surpassed.

Bear in mind there has only ever been 20 of these events in history, starting with the 1930 British Empire Games, meaning Calvert has been involved in HALF of them.

A few more impressive statistics for you.

  • David's first Commonwealth Games was in 1978. He has been selected for every one since.
  •  David has won EIGHT Commonwealth medals.
  • Four of those medals have been gold and four bronze.
  • Out of Northern Ireland's 27 golds in Commonwealth history, David has won virtually one seventh of them.

And he revealed in our interview this week that he doesn't even have the best eyesight!

This year the Belfast native, who lives near Cambridge, will compete in the Full-Bore Individual and Pairs events aiming to add more medals to his vast collection.

Regarded as one of the finest shooters in the world, David hasn't done too badly since first taking up arms almost 50 years ago at Campbell College in the RAF section of the Cadet Force.

He recalls: "I first shot with the Cadet Force in 1965 and got selected for the All-Ireland team in the Home Internationals in 1968 the year before I left school and it went on from there."

Calvert, who left home in 1969, would go on to become a pilot in the RAF.

While he wasn't flying the skies, he was establishing himself in the sport of shooting and was first selected for the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team 36 years ago.

"In their own way all the Games have been great, but the first was really special, as was the second when I first won a medal, in the pairs.

"My partner was Hazel McIntosh and we managed to get a bronze.

"The first gold was in the Individual competition in 1994 and I loved the Manchester Games in 2002 when the shooting events took place at the National Shooting Centre in Bisley.

"I won two gold medals but the joy of Manchester was that not only did I have friends from the shooting world, the local area and from home, but I had both my parents there to enjoy it and my children Anna and Peter.

"It was very special from a family perspective as well as a competition perspective."

Anna is in Singapore and won't make it to Scotland but Peter, who works in London, is coming up to watch the final of the Individual next week.

Before then the master will partner 22-year-old protege Jack Alexander in the Pairs tomorrow and Saturday.

"We've had a lot of fun training together," says Calvert, who adds that he feels this is the strongest shooting field he has known at the Games, which to him represents the pinnacle in his sport.

"Jack is relatively inexperienced but he has a lot of talent and enthusiasm and he's a quick learner.

"We are both looking forward to the competition

"I'm delighted to be here again.

"There is great camaraderie and a good social element to it all.

"Winning another medal would be nice though as competitors. All of us will be striving to claim gold."

For Calvert, he will do it without perfect eyesight.

"It is surprising to those outside the sport and even some inside the sport that you can actually be a competitive shooter without having great vision.

"My vision is not very good, but there are other areas which come in to play.

"Much of it comes down to experience which helps with the psychological preparation and approach and of course you need the basic shooting skills."

Calvert, a member of Comber Rifle Club and all old school manners, is a fascinating character.

He retired from full time employment with the RAF as a pilot a few years ago and now teaches students in the Air Squadron at Cambridge University how to fly.

Having travelled all over the globe he doesn't mind that the shooting events are a two hours' drive away from the host city, next door to Carnoustie Golf complex.

Once the shooting competition is over, he will join the rest of the Northern Ireland team in Glasgow.

And he insists, if he can help it, there will be NO fond farewells at the end of these Games.

"As long as I can be of benefit to the team I will continue to try and qualify for future events," says the 63-year-old.

"In 2018 for the next Games I would very much like to go back to the Gold Coast for the shooting at Brisbane where I won my first medal in 1982. I'm pleased and proud to contribute to Northern Ireland in terms of medals and hopefully I can do that again in Scotland and in years to come."

Belfast Telegraph

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