He once foiled a plane hijack now Canadian shooter competes at Commonwealth Games aged 79

He once foiled a plane hijack now Canadian shooter competes at Commonwealth Games aged 79
By Sportsbeat

07/04/2018 at 16:22Updated

Hijack hero Bob Pitcairn's first claim to fame was worthy of a Hollywood action film and 44 years on he is hitting the heights once again at the Commonwealth Games

The Canadian former pilot made national headlines back in 1974 when he foiled a hijack attempt on a commercial flight in Saskatoon, as he helped thwart a would-be assailant who was holding a knife to the neck of a member of his crew.

Now he is back in the limelight as he becomes the oldest person ever to compete in the Commonwealth Games - born

Aged 79 and nine months, Pitcairn will break the record held by English lawn bowler Doreen Flanders since Glasgow 2014, when he competes in the fullbore shooting.

Pitcairn and partner Nicole Rossignol, 48, will compete in the Queen's Prize Pairs on Monday, and he will then turn his attention to the individual event on Wednesday.

"I feel honoured to set the new age record and grateful that my health and athleticism made it possible for me to be competitive in the Gold Coast Games," said Pitcairn, born in 1938, just eight years after the first British Empire Games, the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games, in Edmonton.

"I've had many successes in international shooting over the years but I consider qualifying for the Canadian fullbore team at Gold Coast 2018 the pinnacle of my long shooting career.

"My goal is to stand on the podium with my partner Nicole Rossignol in the pairs event, and then again for the individual event. I trained hard, I'm aiming for that, and I'm going to get them."

Pitcairn's previous brush with fame had come when he was 36 years old and piloting a Boeing 737.

Taking off from Montreal, Pitcairn had been due to fly to Edmonton with stops planned in Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg only for passenger Naim Djemal to hijack the plane and attempt to redirect it to Cyprus.

To do so he attacked crew member Lena Madsen, holding a knife to her throat, demanding Pitcairn change destination.

Instead Pitcairn, who had undertaken a two-day course on what to do during a hijacking just six months earlier, made an emergency landing in Saskatoon where Djemal was apprehended and eventually sentenced to seven years in prison.

Pitcairn, meanwhile, declined a free first-class trip to Honolulu from the airport, saying: "My job was to get people safely from A to B. That was my responsibility. I had to do what I needed to make that happen."

Pitcairn will be hoping his shooting training will be as effective as his hijack prevention course was nearly half a century ago.

Sportsbeat 2018