A FORMER Army officer has hit the bullseye after winning gold at the Team UK Invictus Games Trials in Sheffield.

Matt Kieboom, well known to many in the Cardigan and surrounding area in his role as a police community support officer, topped the podium in the archery event and has now set his sights firmly on making it to the next Invictus Games in The Hague in May 2020.

“It was an amazing experience and I cannot begin to put into words just what it means,” said Matt.

“The welcome we received in Sheffield was second to none. I had a bad week in the run up to the event but they laid on a welcoming gig and it was just fantastic. There were people there in wheelchairs, amputees and from all backgrounds who had served in the military.”

But it was the archery competition where Matt’s main focus lay. As part of his recovery process after leaving the Army, Matt had first picked up a bow in April and found himself facing 81 other competitors in the novice category.

“It was so hot and everyone was struggling in the heat - my nerves were absolutely shredded,” said Matt.

“The sights came off my bow twice which did not help but people rallied round to help – there was a raft of unbelievable volunteers - and even the people you were up against were getting you to calm down, focus on your breathing and do your best.

“I could not believe it when I got all the way to the final and won. My parents were there watching and it was my dad’s birthday. Everyone else was very composed and there was I, standing on the podium blubbing away!”

But Matt could not afford to relax as the following day he took bronze in the 50m freestyle swimming and only missed out on a medal in the 100m by 2/100ths of a second,

The event was organised by Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion, leading up to the next Invictus Games in The Hague in May 2020.

“I had no idea what to expect when I went up there but people bent over backwards to help and make you feel welcome,” added Matt.

“And while everyone was competitive and wanted to do their very best and push themselves, it was also about looking after each other and the camaraderie that exits. It is difficult to describe that experience.”

Matt now hopes his efforts will be enough to qualify for the 2020 Invictus Games.

“I want to say a big thank you to Emlyn Archers, Help for Heroes and Recovery Centre Wales for all that they have done,” he added.