Helen Corsie hasn’t been afraid to turn her hand at a number of sports while representing Orkney at the Island Games.
The 50-year-old from Kirkwall is heading to her fifth Island Games, which takes place in Guernsey between July 8 and 14.
Her first experience at the biennial sporting event came in 1991 in Aland, Finland, when she competed in athletics, before a 14-year hiatus as she returned to competing at the 2005 games in Shetland.
It was then Corsie was dubbed “Orkney’s golden girl” as she won gold in the shot put, before picking up a bronze medal in the same discipline in 2007.
Corsie then stepped away from sport to start a family, but her passion for competing never went away – and in 2016 she took up something completely new.
“I’m so competitive and I love competing, but I didn’t think I wanted to go back to athletics,” said Corsie.
“I ended up joining the archery club.
“We were short of a female competitor, so I went to Gotland (2017 Island Games) to do archery.
“I’d only been doing it for about a year, so I didn’t do very well, but I wanted to keep going.
“This is the first time there has been archery in the Games since Gotland – I’ve had six years worth of practice now!
“I’ve been away to Scottish events and improved my personal best by 60 points last time, so everything is looking good.”
Switching sports, but the same mindset required
To those who haven’t competed in shot put or archery, the two sports may seem incomparable, with one being about power and the other precision.
But, for Corsie, there have been transferable skills between the athletics field and picking up a bow and arrow.
“They’re different kind of sports,” said Corsie. “For the shot put, you have to get yourself geared up for it – it’s an explosive high-energy sport, and archery is very calm and you have to lower your heart rate.
“But, the mindset is very much the same. You have to visualise your technique, which is so important, and with both sports it’s repetitive and the same kind of process.”
There has been one big difference, though, as Corsie reflects on the contrasting kind of pressure she has experienced in both sports.
“When I went to the Games for the shot put I only had the one day and that once chance to perform,” said Corsie. “You had that one evening which was make or break.
“Whereas with the archery you have the individual and team events, so there are more opportunities to go out and medal.”
In Guernsey – which is the first Island Games to take place since Covid 19 – 83 athletes will represent Orkney over 12 sports, with the youngest being 14-year-old swimmer Alfie Price.
Corsie hopes her journey from 1991 to now her fifth games can inspire team-mates, like Price who are only at the beginning of their sporting careers.
“When I was younger I just tried everything and going to the Games and competing on that level was such an experience,” said Corsie.
“Then when I came back to it when I was a bit older, I was the first person to win individual gold for Orkney in such a while that it was a bit of a sensation. It was really great.
“Hopefully, it can inspire the younger ones and show them that if you put in enough hard work and commitment then you can go on to achieve and win medals.
“For the younger ones, the Island Games can be a wee bit of a taster of what’s to come for them.”