BIATHLETE Matthew Cook claimed a gold medal at the World Tour Biathle event in Erding, Germany.

Cook, competing in the Youth A class (age17-18), went straight to the front and, after the first 500m circuit, he and German Max Graff had opened up a gap on the rest of the field.

At the end of lap two Cook was on Graff’s heels, then, coming into transition after lap three, the lead changed as Matthew hit the water first.

Graff was the strongest swimmer and over the 200m lake swim he opened up a 40m lead which looked an impossible task for Matthew at the start of the second run.

Having been disappointed with his third place in Cheltenham, he used every ounce of strength and gradually over the three laps whittled the gap down and at the final bend was a stride behind.

The pair put in a spectacular sprint for the line, with Cook just coming out on top.

An absolutely delighted Cook, pictured left, said: “That was the closest, fastest and most exciting race I havebeen in.

“I won by 0.3 of a second and have never run so hard in my life.

“It has given me a lot of motivation and confidence for the future.”

Meanwhile, Cook’s clubmate Margaret Smith was competing in the Masters C class (age 60+).

However, this turned out to be Smith’s worst race this year.

Mary Collett took the lead from the start, with Smith second and Austrian Heidi Markefka a few feet behind her in third place.

Smith and Markefka entered the lake together, but the Austrian was the better swimmer and took second place.

Smith thought the gap was closable over the second run, but she had trouble with her breathing and had to settle for third place.

The pair are next in action at the European Biathle Championships in Setubal in Portugal.