Shooting: Peter Wilson of Team GB thanks coach for gold

Briton was working in a pub after having his funding cut – now he is Olympic champion

So significant was the part played by the ruling Al Maktoum family of Dubai in Great Britain’s winning the shooting gold medal in the double trap yesterday that the young winner Peter Wilson climbed over a fence to grab his coach, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum and blurted in a tearful embrace: “This man deserves all the praise.”

The Sheikh, who had won gold in this event in 2004, has refused to accept any payment since the unlikely pair hooked up together after his retirement four years ago. “I told him that I don’t coach for money,” he said with the strains of “It’s A Beautiful Day” ringing round Woolwich Barracks. “But I said ‘I am not going to be nice, I will be tough with you.” Money, he believes, does not make winners,: “No champions come on a red carpet. Look at Pele and Maradona.”

Wilson, the well-spoken Millfield School product and son of a Dorset stud farmer, was not exactly born with a plastic spoon in his mouth, but it was a blow when Britain’s shooters had their funding cut for a year after a poor showing in Beijing four years ago.

“That is difficult as an elite athlete and I thought about giving up,” he said. “I started to work in a pub to cover costs. But it just wasn't possible. It was late nights and early mornings and it was destroying my shooting. So it has been an incredible journey.

“Then Sheikh Maktoum came on board and he was a great help. He is an Olympic gold medallist – he won by 10 targets and I won by two – and one of the most technically proficient shotgun shooters in the world. He knows more about shotgun shooting than anyone else. How lucky was I to team up with him in 2008 and then get my funding back?”

Like a number of Britain’s recently discovered heroes and heroines, he found his real sporting metier only by accident; after damaging his shoulder in a snowboarding accident, he was unable to continue with cricket and squash and turned to shooting, despite it not being the most obvious choice with a bad shoulder. Within six months he had won a European junior champion.

Still only 25, Wilson he was the youngest competitor by 12 years in yesterday’s final, which the six contestants went into with only six hits between them. Crucially, Wilson had a lead of three from the morning’s qualifying session in which the  Olympic champion Walton Eller and world No 1 Joshua Richmond were both eliminated along with Britain’s Richard Faulds, the Sydney gold medal winner, who was 12th.

In the double trap, often known as clay pigeon shooting – at the first Olympics real pigeons were used -  two targets are released simultaneously and shooters taking turns have about a third of a second to nail both of them. The accuracy in the final was staggering and not until the tenth round did any of the leading three contenders miss one.  Wilson did so then and for four nervous rounds had his lead cut to one over the Russian Vasily Mosin.

 With ten rounds left he looked comfortable with a lead of four but then came another bad moment, missing both shots and allowing the 46 year-old Swede Hakan Dahlby to close to two hits.  “I almost always know why I miss but I have no idea why I did there,” he said. “The targets may just have moved off line, so I kept fairly relaxed about it.”

If such composure was admirable, he admitted “the gun was shaking” during the last four pairs, when he held onto a lead of two and fell to the ground in celebration. Dahlby took the silver medal and in a shoot-off to which little attention was being paid as Britons in the capacity crowd celebrated, Russia’s Mosin won the bronze.  

“It felt pretty good,” Wilson said with typical understatement. “I had one goal in mind today and that was to go into the final with a lead. The years of training got me through those last four pairs. Now I’m going to get very, very drunk.”

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker