The 2021 World Shooting Para sport season kicked off in the host city of the next World Championships, landed in Peru for the first time before it saw history being made at Tokyo 2020. Then, it spent a wonderful weekend in Lonato del Garda with the best shooting Para trap athletes on the planet.
It is time to look back at a fantastic year for our sport.
THE WORLD CUP RETURNS
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates hosted in March the first World Shooting Para Sport competition in more than one year when the seven-day World Cup returned to the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
The venue will host the 2022 World Championships in November next year and saw a lot of medal hopefuls in action. Ukraine topped the medals table with the host nation in second and India in third – a hint of what the Asian shooters would achieve later in the year at the Paralympics in Tokyo.
Teenage sensation Manish Narwal took one of India’s two gold medals as he broke the world in the P4 (mixed 50m pistol SH1) event.
Three months later, the Peruvian capital Lima hosted the World Cup for the first time in the final qualification event for Tokyo 2020.
Ukraine finished first in the medals standings again with seven victories – two of them were courtesy of Iryna Shchetnik, the R6 - mixed 50m rifle prone SH1 and R8 - women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1.
The Asaka Shooting Range witnessed history being made in shooting Para sport during the seven days of competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Avani Lekhara put India on the top of the podium for the first time in shooting at the Games right on day one becoming an instant social media hit!
The 19-year-old won the R2 – women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1, the opening event of the shooting Para sport programme in Japan. She finished the year as the winner of the IPC’s 2021 Paralympic Awards in the Best Female Debut category.
India made more headlines with the one-two podium in the P4 – mixed 50m pistol SH1 with Manish Narwal first and Singhraj in second.
China topped the medals table in Tokyo with four gold and two silver medals. One of their triumphs was also Cuiping Zhang’s third Paralympic gold in the R8 - women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1.
Serbia finished second (two gold and two silver) and India in third (two gold, one silver and two bronze). Germany took the fourth place thanks to its first Paralympic shooting gold in 17 years through Natascha Hiltrop in the R3 - Mixed 10m Air Rifle prone SH1.
Iran’s and Slovakia’s Paralympic heroes also returned to the top of the podium in Tokyo. The first Iranian female athlete to win gold at the Games, Sareh Javanmardi defended her title in the P2 – women’s 10m air pistol SH1.
Veronika Vadovicova saved the best for last with her triumph in the R6 – mixed 50m rifle prone SH1, the final event in contention at Tokyo 2020, to become the most-decorated summer Paralympian from her country.
AND THEN THERE WAS LONATO
Less than three weeks after the end of the Paralympic Games, it was time for Para trap and the second edition of the World Championships in Lonato del Garda, Italy.
The Trap Concaverde shooting venue was also the home of the first edition in 2019 and is already part of the shooting Para sport history.
Cyprus, Spain and the host nation took the gold medals with Nikolaou Neofytos (PT1), Ignacio Javier Oloriz (PT2) and Emilio Poli (PT3), respectively.
None of the best-performers in the qualifying stage reached the podium in the finals in Lonato as a testament of the strength in depth in the discipline.
The world champions will be put to test again next year as Para trap joins the World Shooting Para Sport Championships programme for the second time in Al Ain 2022.