South Korea’s Jinho Park has taken stock of a whirlwind 2014, in which he won ten medals at his first World Championships in Suhl, Germany, and at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, and now has his sights firmly set on Rio 2016.
Park smashed two world records and won five medals in individual and team events at Suhl 2014. He also claimed five medals, including three golds, at Incheon 2014.
Despite his outstanding performance, in reality, he revealed he had been worried about the 2014 season.
“I didn’t expect that I would be able to achieve such good results, because I was in poor form when I began training at the start of the year,” Park said. “I felt relieved after finishing all the matches, particularly in Suhl.”
Park said that he would not forget his first World Championships, because his worst and best memories of the year were forged there.
After setting a new qualification world record in R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing), he finished a disappointing fifth in the final.
“I focused on training for the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) more than other events, so I was quite confident on the first day,” he continued.
“I think I felt more nervous than usual, due to the world record which I had set in qualification. Moreover according to the new rule, the qualification result doesn’t count in the final, so I was struggling with it.”
The first day’s disappointment turned into the joy of victory in R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1) in the next.
“Fortunately, I won a gold medal in the following event. It was my first gold medal at such a big competition, so it was the most memorable accomplishment for me during the season,” he said.
The 37-year-old paid much attention to assume the best positions, and repeated them with the aid of his club coach.
He was grateful to the man who had helped pave the way for his para-shooting career.
“Since my coach, Kang Won-Muk joined my club team, Chungju City Office team in 2009, I was systematically taught shooting from the beginning, so he is a very important person to me,” Park said.
Hope for Rio 2016
Although Park became the world No.1 in R1 and R3 in 2014, he emphasised that his performance was just a preparatory step for 2016.
“As many athletes are eager, my ultimate goal is also to compete at the Paralympic Games. Therefore, I’ll try to participate in many international tournaments in 2015, ahead of Rio 2016.”
In South Korea, para-athletes who win medals at the Paralympic Games are eligible for the government’s reward scheme. They are credited monthly payments, differentiated according to their medal wins.
Consequently Park is longing to win a gold medal at Rio 2016.
“I believe that the reward scheme will enable me to concentrate on shooting without financial difficulties. I’ll continue para-shooting as long as possible, because it is my life itself.”
The 2015 IPC Shooting calendar features six World Cups, including three qualifiers for Rio 2016 in France, Australia and the US.
The first World Cup takes place in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain, from 30 March – 1 April.