Local Olympians honoured by the Queen
IAN COLEY, one of the unsung heroes of the record-breaking London Olympics effort by Team GB, has been included in the Queen’s New Year Honours list – yet he thought his official invitation might have been a tax demand.
Coley, who runs his own shooting school at Andoversford, was appointed MBE for services to target shooting.
Ian was manager of the British shooting team in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games where his protégé Peter Wilson, who will also receive an MBE, won the gold medal in the Double Trap Shooting.
“When this official-looking letter arrived In November, I thought it might be from the taxman,” said Coley. “Instead, it asked me whether I would accept an MBE if it were offered.
“I replied yes in double quick time.
“I have been Team GB manager for six Olympic Games now since Barcelona in 1992 and we also won a gold in 2000, so I am sure it is for my long experience in shooting and not just because of our success in London.
“I was obviously delighted, honoured and humbled.
“I told my wife Jayne at the time and then told my 95-year-old mother Betty and the rest of the family on Christmas Day. They all then had to keep the secret for a few more days.
“I want to take my mother to the investiture. She has been to the Palace once before when my late father received his Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) from the Queen about 20 years ago.”
Coley’s contract with Team GB ends in April and he hinted that he is prepared to go back on an earlier decision to retire.
“Finding 120 days a year to do the job and fit it around my own business is not easy,” said Coley.
“Our four-year funding has improved from £2.6m to £3m, which is adequate, but I would not continue unless I thought we had real medal chances.
“Peter has not picked up a gun since the Olympics as he has been following other opportunities. He would need to start training again in March or April for the European and World Championships, although 2013 is not a particularly vital year in the sport.
“We are due to meet up again in early January to discuss some of the shooting’s new rule changes.
“I think he will find it hard not to defend his title in Rio, 2016 – he is the Olympic champion and World No.1 after all.
“And we also have shooters like Steve Walton and Steve Scott, the Commonwealth Pairs champions who just missed out on selection for London. They could both come in for consideration come Rio.”
Coley joked that Wilson needs to return to training under his watchful eye in Andoversford quickly after his ignominious effort on the Christmas BBC Superstars programme when he finished last.
“I sent Peter a rude text suggesting he should stick to his day job and he sent me back an evener ruder one,” said Coley.
One local Olympian who did shine in the popular resurrected multi-sport challenge was Oaksey dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer.
Laura excelled in the 100m, 400m, kayaking, swimming and gym test to finish a very honourable third behind only Olympic gold medal-winning rower Helen Glover and Taekwondo’s golden girl Jade Jones.
Laura, along with her gold medal-winning GB dressage team-mates Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, were also named in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to equestrianism.
Dujardin was appointed OBE, while Bechtolsheimer and Hester were appointed MBE.
As well as being part of the team winning Great Britain's first ever gold medal in the team dressage, Dujardin, from Newent, won gold in the individual event.
Bechtolsheimer, whose stables are in Ampney St Peter, Gloucestershire, won bronze in that event.
Hester, also based in Newent, came fifth in the individual event.
Many of the exceptionally successful GB rowing team have been honoured by the Queen previously, but Alex Gregory, from Wormington near Cheltenham, joined the elite group with a MBE for services to rowing. Gregory won a gold medal in the Men’s Four.
Canoeist Ed McKeever, from Bradford-on-Avon, who triumphed in the Kayak Sprint, has also been recognised for services to his sport by collecting an MBE.
McKeever is enjoying a dual celebration at the moment as he is currently away on his honeymoon.
A final Wiltshire-based Olympian, Heather Stanning, picked up an MBE.
Army captain Stanning, who is based at Larkhill, won Team GB's first gold of the Games, in the Woman’s Pairs rowing.