A north-east shooter has been nominated for one of Aberdeen’s prestigious sports awards.
Oil and gas contracts analyst Allan Ritchie, 49, is the best para trap shooter in the world and is up for Disability Sports Achiever of the Year.
Dad-of-two Ritchie initially took up the able-bodied version of the sport in 2012, but now uses a wheelchair after undergoing surgery on a congenital spine condition two years later in 2014.
His positive attitude has seen him rise to the pinnacle of the discipline – which is now being considered for future inclusion in the Paralympics.
Great Britain representative Ritchie, who is determined he’ll be at the Paralympics even if the sport is included 10 years from now, said: “I’ve won quite a few things this year.
“I won a para gold in Malaga in Spain.
“That will be followed by the grand final, which is where all GB Olympic trap and skeet shooters travel round the country and shoot in competitions to be selected for the grand final.
“I’ve won three golds in that to qualify.
“Even in the able-bodied (categories), no one’s got as low a score as me.
“I also went out to Dubai and won gold at World Shooting Para Sport World Cup and set a world record.
“I’m currently ranked world number one.”
After his spinal surgery, which came after chronic back pain, Ritchie was in hospital for five months doing his rehabilitation and trying to walk again.
He’d stopped shooting in late 2013, but said friend and first coach Mike Adams “dragged him out” again in 2016 – and he discovered he could still beat able-bodied athletes.
Of his transition to and subsequent rise in para trap, Ritchie said: “I’ve only been shooting para trap since April last year.
“I’ve driven thousands of miles round the country training and competing. Now I’m shooting higher than Italians who’ve been doing it for decades.”
Until recently, Ritchie was having to travel to the Central Belt for training, but there is now an Olympic-class shooting range at Auchterhouse on Tayside, making the task of honing his skills as much as possible slightly easier.
This year marks the 25th annual Aberdeen’s Sports Awards, which will be held at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on October 4.
Of the nomination, Ritchie said: “It’s quite humbling somebody has gone out of their way to nominate me.
“I’m not out there trying to prove anything to anybody. I’m trying to do as best as I can for me and my family.
“If something like this gets the sport out there and inspires other people with a disability then fantastic.”