The top shooting Para sport athletes returned to the big stage for the first time since the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Let us go back to May’s World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, where the qualification process for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics began:
Five world records were broken at Cheongju 2018. China’s Xiaohong Bia and Xing Huang reset the records in the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) and P3 (mixed 25m pistol SH1) respectively. South Korea’s Jiseok Lee did likewise in the R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2). Slovakia’s Veronika Vadovicova broke her own world record in the R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1), while her teenage compatriot Kristina Funkova set a new mark in the R9 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH2).
Funkova was the youngest athlete at the Championships, where she won the R9 gold at just 16 years old. The event had recently been announced as part of the Tokyo 2020 programme, and the Slovakian made some early noise ahead of a hopeful Paralympic debut.
Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik impressed with bronze in the R2, and it was no surprise when the 19-year-old went on to win the event’s European title in December.
Paralympic medallists extended their prowess at Cheongju 2018, and these three athletes are not to be forgotten for Tokyo 2020.
Over five Paralympic Games and four World Championships, Vadovicova has been consistent at the top with numerous medals. In Cheongju, she added a pair of titles to her collection.
For UAE’s Abdulla Sultan Alaryani, after two Paralympics and three Worlds, Cheongju 2018 was his most successful. He won two individual titles – R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) and R7 (men’s 50m rifle three positions SH1). By the way, he was running a fever in the R7 final and still won by more than 10 points.
In the pistol side, Iran’s Sareh Javanmardi looked sharp as ever. The two-time defending Paralympic champion won the P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1) and P4 (mixed 50m pistol SH2), both in comeback fashion.