British shooter Peter Wilson shook off a case of nerves to strike gold, making his coach, Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher, a proud mentor.
Olympics: Peter Wilson's shooting gold has a UAE shine to it
LONDON // UAE shooting was able to bask in some reflected glory on Thursday when Peter Wilson, the British shooter who is coached by Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher in Dubai, won the double trap gold for the host nation.
Shooting is by far the leading Olympic sport for the Emirates.
At London 2012, the nation have three qualified competitors in separate disciplines for the first time, while Sheikh Ahmed remains the lone medallist in any sport from the UAE having won the double trap in Athens eight years ago.
Since a heart condition prompted him to give up competitive shooting he has taken to coaching, and with obvious success.
One of his proteges, Sheikh Juma bin Dalmouk, 27, underlined his rich promise in the event yesterday when he finished 13th at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.
As the other one, Wilson, shot his way to gold in the event, Sheikh Ahmed lived every moment of it.
When the 6ft 6in (1.98m) son of an English farmer inexplicably missed twice in one round of the final, Sheikh Ahmed pirouetted in his seat halfway up the main stand and threw his red UAE hat down in despair.
His apprentice conceded he was struck by nerves at that point, but regained his composure suitably enough to make the winning shot, which prompted a heartfelt hug with Sheikh Ahmed.
"Dropping a complete pair wasn't exactly in the plan," Wilson said. "I think everyone got a little bit more nervous certainly, so did I."
Wilson, 25, may be the world record holder in the discipline, yet he still terms his Dubai-based mentor "the greatest double trap shot of all-time".
Theirs is an unlikely alliance. It was that high regard in which Wilson holds Sheikh Ahmed which prompted him to ask the Dubai Royal to consider coaching him, just after his UK-funding was cut four years ago.
Sheikh Ahmed was initially unsure as he barely knew the young shooter, but their unusual alliance has flourished.
"It's as if Prince William was teaching me how to fly a helicopter," Wilson, who has spent much of the past year training at the range in Nad Al Shaba where the next generation of UAE shooters are being honed, was recently quoted as saying.
Wilson said he leant on the experience of his mentor when the pressure was at its height during the Olympic competition.
"Of course you're trying not to focus on it too hard but you're just going through my technique," he said of his thought process towards the end of the competition.
"I spoke in depth with my coach, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum. We made a plan. I felt I tried to execute it as well as I could.
"Of course, things are slightly out of your control when you're actually in that environment.
"I did know that everything got quite close during the middle and then I got a bit further ahead towards the end."
UAE fingerprints were all over the double trap event. Other than Sheikh Juma and Wilson, each of whom is heavily influenced by Sheikh Ahmed, Fehaid Al Deehani of Kuwait finished in fourth after losing a shoot-off for bronze.
Al Deehani was coached for years by Rustam Yambulatov, the former Olympic silver medallist turned coach, who ended a long stint in Kuwait last year to move to Dubai to coach at Nad Al Sheba.
The 62 year old from Uzbekistan, who deemed Wilson a "dangerous prospect" before the UAE contingent set off for the Games, believes the UAE is set to reap rich benefits from all the role models that are currently floating around the sport.
"Sheikh Saeed [bin Maktoum, who finished 13th in the skeet earlier in the week] and Sheikh Ahmed are very strong shooters, and now a new generation is coming to follow them," Yambulatov said.
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