Double trap shooting doesn’t enjoy the highest profile in the Olympic Games, but Peter Wilson’s stunning victory in a nail-biting final at London 2012 won the sport – and himself – a legion of new admirers.
At the start of 2012 Wilson predicted he would break the world record and win the Olympic gold medal. After achieving his first goal in Tucson, Arizona – setting a world record – the sharpshooter took Olympic gold with an impressive display of marksmanship at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.
In the Double-trap event competitors fire shotguns at pairs of clay targets fired from underground traps. Wilson, 25, went into the final with the gold his to lose. But his three-target lead dropped to one – and after he had hauled himself into a four-clay lead he dropped a pair, leaving home fans watching the last stage of the contest through their fingers.
But he held his nerve to clinch gold by just two targets, hitting 188 clays out of 200 in a tie-break shootout.
Born in Dorset in 1986, Wilson took up shooting in his late teens after damaging his shoulder in asnowboarding accident. Within four months he had become the 2006 European Junior Champion at the tournament in Slovenia.
Future Olympic success seemed inevitable, and he travelled to the Beijing games in 2008 as part of team GB’s Olympic Ambition Programme.
But shortly afterwards he lost his funding and had to rely on parental handouts and bar work to fund his £10,000-a-year training – until financial salvation arrived in the unlikely form of an Arabian Prince.
Ahmad Mohammad Hasher Al Maktoum, a member of the ruling family of Dubai and the 2004 Summer Olympics Double-trap gold medallist, spotted Wilson’s talent and began coaching him to shoot, in Wilson’s words ‘like an Arab.’
This involved a change in technique, with the Englishman standing sideways on to the target rather facing it, as is the European custom. The partnership paid off for the 6ft 6in shooter in 2011 when he won a silver medal as part of the British team at the European Shooting Championships.
After his 2012 wins in Arizona and London, he is ranked world number one in the sport and his exploits gave Britain its first Olympic shooting medal since teammate Richard Faulds won the Double-trap competition at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Afterwards he told reporters: ‘I have been training relentlessly for the last six years just to have this opportunity.
‘All these years during my preparation, nothing else mattered more than the Olympic Games. Nothing compares to winning in London.
‘Having a crowd of any size right behind you is always very special, but it's going to be such a boost to have the home nation behind me. Thankfully I tend to raise my game when it matters.
‘It was dream come true for me and amazing for the sport.’