Kirsty Hegarty insists she’s loved every minute of her first Olympic Games despite failing to reach the medal rounds in the mixed team trap shooting final.
The Craigavon shooter teamed up with men’s bronze medallist Matt Coward-Holley but finished 10th in qualification, with only the top four teams making it through.
No crowds have made for a soulless atmosphere in Tokyo at times but Hegarty says the British team have made their own noise and she’s relished the team environment.
“The team has been great. We’ve probably been the loudest team in the rest area, laughing and joking when everyone else is quite serious,” she said.
“The whole trip, the whole games, it’s just been great.
“It’s really important as it’s like a stress relief. When you go out on the range, you’re under pressure and you need to perform, so you need that release when you get back to the rest area.
“We’ve been a team together for so long everyone knows what everyone wants, when people want alone time and when they want someone to chat to.”
Hegarty, who was also knocked out in qualification in the women’s event, hit 70 of 75 targets.
Coward-Holley hit 73 and the fact it was only good enough for 10th is testament to the quality they were up against.
And the 32-year-old County Armagh ace insists they can be proud of their display as they head for the plane home and preparations begin for another season in 2022.
Hegarty, who studied Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University and has worked for Bombadier, Shorts in the city, will be bidding to regain the Commonwealth Games gold she won in 2010 for Northern Ireland in Birmingham next year.
She will also go for World Championship gold in Baku and says there’s plenty of positives to take.
“I think we both shot really well,” she said.
“It was tough conditions and the field was so high and, you know, that score at a World Cup would have had us knocking at the door.
“That’s the disappointing bit. I had a rough start. Matt - a brilliant teammate as always - pulled me along. So, yeah, I think we shot well.
“You can’t really afford to think about it, you just have to focus on your routine and try to grind out as many plays as possible.”