Vietnamese shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh made Olympic history in 2016

Four years ago, one can only imagine what was going through the mind of Hoang Xuan Vinh as he arrived in London.

It was the biggest sporting stage on the planet -- the Olympic Games -- and the Vietnamese shooter could not have been faulted for harbouring dreams of greatness.

It had been chance that led him down this path in 1999 when Xuan Vinh, then 25, was a military officer who made a name for himself as an expert marksman.

A year later, he won his first national gold medal and broke the national record in the process, and he became a Southeast Asian Games champion by 2001.

From then on, Xuan Vinh continued to rise in the world of shooting but, in the end, it was not to be in his Olympic debut in London.

He finished ninth in the qualifying round for the 10m air pistol, failing to make the cut by a solitary point, and also had to settle for fourth spot in the 50m pistol final after missing a podium place by 0.1 points.

It would have been easy for Xuan Vinh to rue his luck or even be discouraged by coming so close but falling short at the prestigious Games.

Instead, he continued to push on, overcoming any mental demons that may have festered inside him.

By the end of 2012, he had climbed the summit in the continent after winning gold in the 10m air pistol at the 2012 Asian Air Gun Championships in Nanchang, China.

Less than five months later, more success fell his way as he finished top in the same event at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup, seeing off Olympic bronze medalist Wang Zhiwei of China in the final with the last shot.

Then, in March 2014, his hard work delivered a far greater accolade at the ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup Stage in United States, claiming the gold medal and setting a new world record of 202.8 points.

All this meant that, by the time the Olympic Games came around again in Rio de Janeiro, Xuan Vinh entered the tournament as a legitimate medal prospect.

And 2016 proved to be his time emerge from the shadows indeed.

Pitted in an enthralling duel against local favourite Felipe Almeida Wu, which naturally meant he was also up against the home crowd, Xuan Vinh was trailing by 0.2 points going into the final shot.

Wu shot first and scored a 10.1. Moments later, the Vietnamese replied with 10.7 to snatch first place and, in the process, become the Olympic gold medalist in his nation's history.

Immediately after, Xuan Vinh hailed his achievement as one that will be a lifelong memory and dedicated it to everyone in his country.

But that wasn't all for the 42-year-old. Three days later he finished second in the 50m pistol event to write another page in history books as the first Vietnamese to win two medals in the history of the Games.

Now, the deadeye marksman, who currently holds the rank of colonel in the military and is married with two children, is hoping his exploits will inspire the next generation to pick up shooting.