Paralympics: Skelhon's mental strength will fire him to glory

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STILTON shooter Matt Skelhon's story is an incredible one but the most amazing chapter is still yet to be written.

STILTON shooter Matt Skelhon's story is an incredible one but the most amazing chapter is still yet to be written.Less than three years after losing the use of his legs in a car accident, the 23-year-old with the most distinctive hair-cut in sport will begin his campaign for a Paralympic medal in Beijing when the air rifle events begin tomorrow.

Considering he only took up shooting a little over two years ago, the Whittlesey Rifle Club member's inclusion in Great Britain's four-man shooting squad is incredible enough. The fact he has an excellent chance of a podium place is nothing short of remarkable.

But after a series of excellent performances this year - culminating in a silver medal at the Slovakian Open - the man with the mohawk revealed he even harbours dreams of nicking the gold.

He said: "I am in great form at the moment and seem to be peaking at the right time.

"There is no one here who I have not come across before so if I perform as well as I know I can I will do well. I think I have a good chance of winning gold.

"I have beaten most of the top guys this year and it will just come down to who is best on the day."

Skelhon's remarkably rapid rise to the very top of his sport has a lot to do with the mental strength which allowed him to come back from crippling spinal injuries to reach the Paralympics.

And he will need every drop of those mental reserves to keep himself focused for the task in hand when the shooting starts in earnest.

He said: "It is not just physical preparation which is important, strength of mind is vital. It is what helped me to come back from the accident and it will help me achieve my dreams out here too.

"I will treat the Paralympic Games just like any other competition. When I am competing I will try to ignore the environment. I will only let myself get excited when it is all finished. For now I am just concentrating on trying to get my hands on a medal."

Skelhon will be competing in both the 10 metre standing and prone air rifle events in Beijing.