22 May 2018

Shooter Skelhon keen to focus on tiny margins - and marriage - ahead of next World Championships

Fine margins were all that prevented Matt Skelhon from defending his World Para Shooting Championship title – now he’s keen to leave nothing to the Gods.

The three-time Paralympic medallist secured silver in the R3 10m air rifle prone mixed SH1 after recording 254.3 in the final, just 0.7 adrift of Slovakia’s Veronika Vadovicova who secured gold with 255.0.

But while the Brit knows how much of a lottery world finals can be, he believes the time is now to make sure his numbers come up more often than not. Or at least when he’s done thinking about his wedding.

With a Paralympic title already behind him that’s an ambition not beyond the realms of Skelhon’s capabilities, not afraid of looking ahead towards Tokyo 2020 and the next Games.

“In terms of competition, it was to be expected, it was a really good competition, really well-organised and I had a really good time out there,” he said of his time in Korea.

“I was slightly disappointed with only coming away with a silver medal.

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The level of competition is that high at the moment and it’s almost in the lap of the Gods sometimes.

Matt Skelhon

“I’m always confident I can go into a competition and I can medal, but the top three are that close now and that’s all you can hope for – you have to hope you pull something out of the bag in the final.

“It makes you train harder and it’s pushing you all the time to perform, so it’s good in that sense, but on the other hand it’s nice to know you can go to a competition and you’re in shape to win it, and at the moment you know even if you shoot a world record, you might even come second.

“It’s good, but it adds to the pressure, definitely.

“It’s a case of carrying on doing what I’m doing. There’s not much more I can do, the margins are so, so tiny and some of the most important things now are making sure the equipment is as good as it can be, your ammunition is as good as it can be. It’s working well so far.”

Matt Skelhon picked up silver in Korea - the last major event before his wedding

Marriage the immediate target

While shooting dominates Skelhon’s attentions throughout the year, there’s something else on his mind currently.

Just over a month remains until he and fiancée Becky tie the knot, the shooter allowing himself some downtime off the range with his out-of-sport priorities dominating.

In a career that demands plenty of time away from home, Skelhon knows just how important it is to maintain the balance of elite sport and family life.

But, fortunately for the 33-year-old, that’s an area upon which is has very little to worry about.

“I get married on June 30, so I’m taking a bit of time away at the moment,” he explained. “Preparations are going really well and pretty much everything has been sorted.

“It’s all good – I just have to get my suit and finish off a couple of bits and pieces. I reckon I’ll be back at the end of July and beginning of August – we’re on honeymoon until July 15.

“I’m targeting the World Cup in France for my return. Hopefully if the schedule allows it I may try and shoot trap while I’m out there as well but we’ll have to see.

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Becky is absolutely fantastic, I couldn’t wish for anyone better. She’s always there to support me.

Matt Skelhon

“It takes its toll sometimes when I’m away for a long time but Becky is OK with that.

“I’ll just keep working and try and make the squad for Tokyo. There’s another World Championships next year in Australia so that will be the first thing to work towards in trying to get my world title back next year.

“But before that, I will be doing everything I can to try and win in France.”

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