Britain's Richard Faulds struck gold in a thrilling men's double trap shoot-out in Sydney yesterday.

The 23-year-old, from Longparish in Hampshire, beat Australia's Russell Mark to win Britain's second gold.

Faulds, who was lying fourth going into the final round, kept his nerve at the Sydney International Shooting Centre to become Britain's first shooting gold medallist since Malcolm Cooper in 1988.

Mark had the Australian crowd behind him in a nerve-racking shoot-out. But Faulds, fifth in Atlanta four years ago, hit three of the four clay targets to Russell's two.

Mark missed the second target on the first pair of clays in the shoot-out and when Faulds could not take advantage, missing a target on his first pair, he thought he had blown his chance to grab gold.

A jubilant Faulds said: ''I can't believe it. It's a dream come true - somebody smack me.''

''I'm over the moon and what I've done won't sink in for a few days yet.

''I thought I'd missed my chance. When Mark missed the second target on the first pair I thought to myself 'if you hit the first pair you've got it'.

''I didn't think I'd get a second chance from Mark - he's such a good shooter - and when he missed the second target on the second pair I thought 'you've got to take your chance now.'

''I was aware that the crowd were behind Russell but I've worked hard on staying focused and it's obviously paid off. I tried to treat the shoot-off as if it was a practice session.''

Faulds and Mark are friends and shooting partners with a healthy respect for each other.

''Russell's a good friend of mine,'' said Faulds. ''We've done a lot of shooting together. In Melbourne last week we shot together for four days and there were only two clays between us at the end so we're pretty evenly matched.''

Faulds, who qualified for these Olympics by shooting a double trap world record score at a World Cup meeting in Atlanta, added: ''Russell is the greatest without doubt and to beat him is awesome.''

Mark said: ''There's no luck involved. He's a great shot, a great person and he deserves to be number one.''

The Surrey-born marksman, who is a part-time instructor at a west London shooting school, was two points behind Mark, who had shot an Olympic record total of 143 in the preliminary round.

But in the six-man final Faulds, who first competed for Britain aged 12, levelled the score with the Australian to set up the two-man gold medal shoot-out.

The bronze medal went to Kuwait's Fehaid Al Deehani, who missed the gold medal shoot-out by one point.

Faulds' gold was Britain's second shooting medal of the Games following Ian Peel's silver medal in the men's trap and it was also Britain's first clay shooting gold medal since 1968.

His gold also meant that on day five of the Games Britain had already surpassed their gold medal total from Atlanta, where Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent were the solitary gold medal winners.

''It's a great start for Britain seven medals already - and I'm just so pleased for everyone back home who has helped me,'' said Faulds.

Asked how he would celebrate his gold, he replied tongue-in-cheek: ''I'll think of something.''