Matt Coward-Holley admitted he had to dig deep after the British shooter showed nerves of steel to win Olympic Trap gold with a stunning performance at the ISSF Lonato World Championships.
The 24-year-old from Chelmsford had already secured a Tokyo 2020 quota place for Team GB earlier this year after clinching a silver medal at the ISSF Changwon World Cup.
But he went one better in Italy, overcoming a shaky start to be crowned world champion ahead of home favourite Mauro De Filippis and Kuwait’s Khaled Al-Mudhaf.
And Coward-Holley, who also won team bronze with teammates Nathan Hales and Aaron Heading, could not hide his delight at finishing on top of the podium.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” he said. “I didn’t have the greatest of starts, I missed four out of my first seven and then dug in and came out with the gold with a score of 45.
“In these conditions I’m delighted. I wanted to make sure I’d hit all my targets at the end regardless of whether I’d already won it or not.
“I’ve shot very consistently throughout the whole time I’ve been here. The conditions in the final were not easy, but it was about digging in and making the best out of it that you could.
“I want to thank UK Sport and the National Lottery funding for giving me the help and support I need to shoot and travel the amount I do.
“The staff and coaches at British Shooting are amazing, and I’d also like to thank my personal coach Diego for his hard work over the years.”
Coward-Holley was full of confidence after qualifying for the final in fourth following an eight-bird shoot-off, but he missed three of his first eight clays as he made a slow start.
But he quickly regrouped and finished with a score of 45, with Italian rival De Filippis finishing six clays behind Coward-Holley with 39 to take the silver medal.
Al-Mudhaf completed the podium as he claimed bronze with a score of 33 to finish ahead of GB’s Hales, who just missed out on an individual medal with a score of 29.
Hales did not walk away from Lonato empty handed, though, with his performance in the GB Men’s Trap trio along with Coward-Holley and Heading securing a team bronze.