A single gunshot was enough to blow Ben Llewellin’s world apart.
The Welsh skeet shooter missed out on the Tokyo Olympics by one shot in 125 – he hit 122 but missed the one that mattered most in the final shoot-off.
It was the cruellest of blows and left Llewellin unable to so much as look at a weapon for weeks on end.
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“I was absolutely devastated,” he said. “When I missed the target, everything just sort of sank. I knew my opportunity had gone down the pan.
“I didn’t go to the range for a couple of months. I had no interest whatsoever in competing, I didn’t look past the next day, and it took ages for that hunger to come back.”
Llewellin licked his wounds and watched the Olympics from home in Haverfordwest but an olive branch soon came in the shape of an approach from a new gun manufacturer.
Having used the same gun for ten years, an off-season switch brought a new technical set-up and a break with the painful recent past.
“It boosted my motivation a bit,” he said. “I had some great results with the old gun but it was a new task, a change to my approach. That got me going again and gave me the motivation to train every day.
“The new cycle has been about a shift of mindset – not just plugging away at the same old thing – I had something new to get my teeth into a fresh start.”
Llewellin is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing him to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – this is vital for his pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.
Llewellin has never suffered from a lack of sporting inspiration.
Dad David is a legendary rally driver who won the British Championship in 1989 and 1990 and brother Tom has won the rallycross national title, with Ben trying his hand at motorsport in his youth.
“With rallying, there was no adrenalin rush like it,” he said. “There’s a lot of differences between rallying and shooting but I like the controlled aggression, the discipline and the psychology behind shooting.
“Rallying is hell for leather and crash!”
With the Paris 2024 Olympics only one year away, the Games are set to inspire people and communities all across the country. Llewellin hopes that by sharing his story it will give others motivation to get involved into sport.
Llewellin is a Commonwealth silver and European bronze medallist in his own right and if he makes Team GB, will go to Paris in hope of winning an Olympic gong.
But his best chance will undoubtedly come in the skeet team event alongside Amber Hill, the most successful British shooter of all time. The pair were crowned world champions in the event in 2022.
Hill was selected for Tokyo but missed out on the Games after testing positive for Covid-19 just days before she was due to travel to Japan.
Llewellin said: “We seem to click as a team, we work well together and the target will be on our backs as the ones to beat. I relish that and no doubt she will too.
“I spoke to Amber two or three days after she didn’t make it to Tokyo, and we made a pact that we were going to make sure we right all of our wrongs in Paris.”
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