London Spy

Golden boy Wilson owes it all to snowboarding injury

London Spy

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Peter Wilson

British shotgun gold medallist Peter Wilson only took up the sport after an injury cut short his snowboarding career.

25-year-old Wilson cruised to a nerveless victory on Thursday afternoon in the men's double trap at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.

But if his sporting career had gone as planned he would never have even been at the Olympics - or at least not the Summer Games.

He was a keen snowboarder, footballer, squash and rugby player, and harboured dreams of representing his country at the highest level.

But a serious snowboarding injury left him with severe nerve damage in his shoulder, and unable to compete in the winter sport.

Wilson's father, a farmer, suggested he visit the national shooting centre at Bisley to try double trap shooting.

He took to it straight away, and just four months later he became European junior champion.

There then followed an amazing slice of luck that got him a top-quality coach. At a competition he ran into Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's royal family and a gold medallist in the double trap himself at Athens in 2004, who saw his potential and agreed to teach him.

Al Maktoum, who does not charge for coaching Wilson, has given him a distinctive side-on stance that is different from most of his rivals who stand straight on.

But why did the Sheikh agree to take him on?

"Most of it came out of the way he wanted it," Al Maktoum told the Daily Mail.

"He wanted to be number one in the world and qualify for the Olympics. And he never argued with me about techniques or whatever. If I told him to shoot the gun upside down he'd do it. You don't find that with many students."

Wilson knows exactly how lucky he is.

"I suppose it's like being coached by Prince William or Prince Harry back in the UK for whatever they have won an Olympic gold at," Wilson said before the final.

"That would be pretty special. Imagine them coaching someone from the UAE. Absolutely everyone here would find that quite bemusing."

And none of it would have happened without that snowboarding injury, which Wilson cheerfully admits is probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

"It was really a stroke of luck, the injury left me focusing on shooting more than other sports," he said.

"I had found my niche and got my thirst for competition. I began to love winning and hate losing."

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