Aaron Heading: Back in form ahead of Tokyo 2020

Aaron Heading of Great Britain poses for a photo to mark the official announcement of the Shooting Team selected to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)
Aaron Heading of Great Britain poses for a photo to mark the official announcement of the Shooting Team selected to Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for British Olympic Association)

After getting a second wind through volunteering, Heading is making his Olympic debut with a bang

Aaron Heading is set to make his Olympic debut this year as one of the first four shooters named by Team GB for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

He's joined by Kirsty Hegarty, Matt Coward-Holley and Seonaid Mcintosh, who will represent Great Britain during the Olympic Shooting competition between 24 July and 2 August.

“To get to this day is amazing. I kind of knew I was in but now it is official, it is a massive weight off the shoulders. This is something I am going to really enjoy,” Heading told teamgb.com last week.

“It has been an incredible journey and it’s still not over. It has been a rollercoaster to get to this point and I am so happy that it is something off my list – this is the pinnacle.”

Tokyo 2020 will a big comeback for Heading, who missed qualifying for Rio when he was injured in a motorbike crash in 2014 two weeks before qualification.

He almost lost his leg and had been in a wheelchair for almost two months.

With his Olympic dreams derailed and his shooting form taking a back seat, Heading almost considered retiring altogether from the sport.

Aaron Heading competes during the Mixed Team Shotgun Trap Qualifications event at the 2019 European Games (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Aaron Heading competes during the Mixed Team Shotgun Trap Qualifications event at the 2019 European Games (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
2019 Getty Images

Bouncing back through volunteering

Away from competition, Heading found his second wind through volunteering at the Sutton Bridge Coastguard in South Lincolnshire.

It was then that Heading experienced working in a team environment again, just like he had when shooting.

“It took some pressure away from shooting and I was back in a team,” Heading said of the team at HM Coastguards.

After enjoying time off from competition, shooting came calling again and this time Heading was able to have a different perspective and enjoy the sport more.

“When I started to get the little itches to start shooting, I was really relaxed and enjoyed it again. So, taking that step back and joining the amazing team at HM Coastguards just highlighted elements that being back in a team environment was really enjoyable."

Back from where he started

Since then, Heading has amassed medals in international competitions and was ranked no. 1 in the world in 2018.

He won two World Championships (bronze in pair in 2018, and team bronze in 2019), at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and secured a silver finish at the 2019 European Championships where he secured a quota place for the team for Tokyo 2020.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to win a quota place for my country. I’ve been so close but to finally do it and give something back for my country. It really does mean the world," Heading said back in 2019 for clay-shooting.com.

Now with Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Heading cannot contain his happiness at finally being announced as one of the selected athletes.

“Truly, no words can put into context how it feels, not just for myself but for my family too,” he posted on his Instagram account back on 14 January.

“To represent my nation is all I have ever wanted to do and to do it to the best of my ability! I am so thankful to my family, sponsors and coach Chris Dean for their endless support and help over the years.”

According to BBC Sport, British Shooting will also add more athletes to their Olympic lineup, which will be announced accordingly.