Oldmeldrum’s Allan Ritchie has conquered adversity to equal a world record.
The 48-year-old was told he would never walk again due to a congenital spinal condition – but that hasn’t stopped him becoming a world-class clay pigeon shooter.
Ritchie started shooting in 2012 when he got his shotgun licence, but had to stop in December 2014 when he had surgery on his spinal canal.
He has a congenital condition which means his spinal canal is narrow, resulting in his spinal cord being in constant contact with his spine.
Ritchie said: “My cord is in connection with my spine from the top all the way to the bottom.
“You need to have a capacious canal which means you have a lot of space between your cord and your spine.
“I have a congenitally narrow spine and then degrading of the spine, which we all get as we get older, cut off my cord at T10, T11.
“When they went in to do surgery it just swelled up and it looked like I’d been in a car crash.
“They said to me I wouldn’t be able to get back on my feet.
“I spent five months in hospital trying to learn how to stand and walk again.
“But then the damage was too much and I realised it’s not going to happen. But that’s life, and you get on with it and the opportunities it presents.”
After being left in a wheelchair Ritchie started shooting again with his friends.
However, up until April last year, there was no competition in his event of Para Trap.
But the shotgun event has now been recognised with competitions organised by the World Shooting Parasports.
The event is in a trial period with a view to it being included in the Paralympics alongside the pistol and rifle events.
There is now an international series of events for Para Trap with Ritchie competing in the World Cup meeting in the PT1 class for wheelchair competitors in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates last month.
There he won gold with a sensational score of 110 out of 125 to equal the world record of Australia’s Scott Brydon.
The achievement is made all the more remarkable as Ritchie is self-funded and has to travel south to either Kippen or Falkirk to practise his sport.
Ritchie added: “To sit on the podium with a gold at a World Para Shooting event and then they play the national anthem – it is really quite surreal.
“It’s not something I thought I would ever experience.
“And to have the joint world record is also surreal – and it hasn’t sunk in yet. It justifies all the hours and time away from the family and all the cost because I’m self-funded.”
Richie is now targeting next month’s World Cup event in France in September and the World Championships in Lonato, Italy, later in the year.