AN Okehampton College student scooped a gold medal when she headed north as part of a team of five girls to take part in the Schools National Shooting Championships.

Year 9 student Marina Pritchard, who is 13, represented the school individually in the pistol shooting.

Marina, who is a bilateral amputee and has a shorter right arm, won a gold medal in the para pistol shooting category.

‘This is a remarkable achievement, and we are very proud of Marina’s performance under the pressure of the championships competition,’ said teacher Marie Webber, who accompanied the girls.

Marina’s mum Jo, from Bridestowe, said she was very proud of her daughter.

‘She had only had three sessions at a shooting range before we went. She has been interested in it for a little while and she spent her Christmas and Birthday money on an air rifle.

‘She has been doing it for fun, at home and in her grandad’s garden, and then through the college there was this opportunity to shoot for the National Shooting Championships.

‘Okehampton Smallbore Club have been fantastic. We contacted them when we first heard about this competition and they were brilliant, they have this open door policy and she was able to go there for several sessions. They have been really welcoming and really supportive.

‘We have been introduced to the Paralympic Development Pathway and she has been invited to have some training to see what she might do next. We met some paralympians while we were there. It was very inspiring.’

She explained that her daughter’s disability saw some differences in her approach to the sport.

‘She is sitting down when she shoots, holding the pistol very close to her shorter arm, so it is adjusted,’ she said.

‘She is very keen to progress to rifle shooting. She always goes straight for things and gives them a real go. This is something that she is very passionate about and has a real flair for.’

Also taking part in the competition were the school’s junior pistol team of Zara Plaskett, Eleanor Pearce and Neve Webber, who completed three solid rounds to score well and have gained lots of experience in competing on a national stage. Shannon Griffiths was the only college student to qualify in the rifle rounds. She had an excellent shoot and did a fantastic job to qualify as an individual and represent the school nationally.

Teacher Marie, who led the trip to the championships after the girls qualified through a regional heat, said she wanted to congratulate all of them.

‘Next year’s championships are in the planning stage and for any students interested in taking part next year keep an eye out for information in September.’