Gault trains his sights on Commonwealth medals record

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The Independent Online

He's been dubbed "Gault Finger" by The Times of India and, when it comes to pulling the trigger, Mick Gault is undoubtedly a man with a knack of taking home the shiny stuff. In four Commonwealth Games as a pistol shooter, Gault has won nine gold medals.

At 56, the most senior member of the 2010 England squad intends to go out with a bang in India's capital. Gault already holds the English record haul of 15 Commonwealth medals. Another four in what he says will be his final Games would make him the most bemedalled athlete from any country in the 80-year history of the Games.

The record currently belongs to another shooter, the now retired Australian Phillip Adam. He collected 18 medals over the course of six Games. Gault, who opened his account in Victoria, Canada, in 1994, contests eight events at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range here. "I would love to win eight medals," he said. "I will do my best. I have prepared hard for these Games."

A civil servant, who tests equipment at RAF Markham in Norfolk, Gault insists he will not delay his competitive retirement if he finishes the Games still short of Adam's record. "I am mentally strong and fitter than I have ever been, but I'm 56," he said. "If you add four years to that you reach the magic 60. I think it's time to call it a day."

There was a chance, of course, that "Gault Finger" might have finished on a blank. Ten days ago, it seemed that England, and other dissatisfied nations, might withdraw from the Games because of the "uninhabitable" state of the athletes' village. Asked whether there were any circumstances that might have caused him to drop out, Gault replied with a wry smile: "Death. Or maybe a broken limb."

Given India's domination of Commonwealth shooting in recent years, Gault is expecting "a manic" atmosphere when he sets off on his record mission in the 50m pistol event in the early hours British time tomorrow. "The Indians are really hot on shooting," he said. "If an Indian makes a good shot in a final here, I can expect some noise when I am shooting. Adrenalin is my enemy. The heart is pounding, and the adrenalin starts to pump. You just have to block that out.

"The last time I heard a racket was at the 2002 Games in Manchester, when I went from fourth to first with my last shot in the air pistol. The pressure I felt as a home shooter was tremendous. With a bit of luck, that will go against the Indian shooters here."