Games focus shooter's future aims
Queenstown sharp shooter Jenna MacKenzie has the Rio Olympics in her sights after a "mind blowing" experience at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The 21-year-old became the first New Zealander to represent her country in all three shooting disciplines and reached the finals in her favoured three-position, finishing in seventh place.
"I'm a little bit gutted that I didn't get a medal, but I achieved my goal to reach a final. I know now what I have to do to get a medal," she said.
"I learned so much. I didn't think it would be close to what it was. It had completely different pressure - different feel to World Cups. There were TV cameras everywhere and everyone was clapping and cheering. At most other events everyone is quiet."
Despite being on a tight budget for the event, she paid for Timaru-based coach Jock Allan to join her in Glasgow and was in awe of the reception the Olympic silver medallist and Scotsman received everywhere they went.
It was the first time she had had her coach of almost seven years with her at international competition and the experience helped her performance and future plans.
"It was really good when things went wrong to have someone there to help me."
Other highlights included the opening and closing ceremonies and seeing the likes of Kylie Minogue on stage, as well as meeting sports starts such as chef de mission Rob Waddell, seeing the endless energy of Valerie Adams and getting an autograph from 400m gold medal winner Kirani James, of Grenada, whom she didn't recognise but grabbed his signature after watching star struck fans approach.
The shooting team were thrilled to have former Southlander Sally Johnston win gold in the women's 50m rifle prone, competing in her fourth Commonwealth Games appearance at the age of 41 and her success gave MacKenzie hope she would have plenty of years in the sport yet.
She was heading off to Timaru to continue training this week then to Spain in early September for world champs - her first as a senior before beginning qualifying rounds for the Rio Olympics in January.
"I'm looking forward to it. Being in Rio is going to be amazing. Imagine what the shows are going to be like. But I've got a long way yet to get there."