Al Ain 2019: Kovalchuk wins final day thriller

Ukrainian avoids late surge from Brazilian opponent 24 Feb 2019
Three male medallists pose with their rifles
Ukraine's Vasyl Kovalchuk beat Brazil's Alexandre Galgani by slim margins to win R5 gold in Al Ain.
ⒸPriyanka Sharma
By Priyanka Sharma | For World Shooting Para Sport

A matter of millimetres made Ukraine’s Vasyl Kovalchuk the victor of a thrilling final day at the Al Ain 2019 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup on Saturday (23 February) in the United Arab Emirates.

The two-time Paralympic champion pipped Brazil’s Alexandre Galgani of Brazil by 0.2 points to clinch the gold medal in the R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH 2) final that went down to the last shot.

Kovalchuk, who led the field throughout the first 10 series of shots, was challenged by Galgani until the very end. In fact, the battle initially was between Kovalchuk and Italy’s eventual bronze medallist Andrea Liverani before the Brazilian made the surge with his three perfect 10.9 shots.

The silver medal is also the best career finish for Galgani.

“Everyone was shooting at a different level,” Kovalchuk, 45, said. “I am really glad to compete against some outstanding rivals and win against them. Now my target is to try winning the World Championship gold in Australia and (then) Tokyo 2020.

“I was expecting even better score for myself but that’s OK. There was a lot of pressure in the finals,” he added.

Penalty cost gold

Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s Server Ibragimov surprised a star-studded field to take the P4 (50m mixed pistol SH1) gold at the Al Ain International Shooting Club.

Ibragimov, the Rio 2016 bronze medallist, finished ahead of Paralympic champions including Iran’s Sareh Javanmardi, and China’s Yang Chao and Hijang Xing with 223.0 points after staying on top throughout.

He was also lucky to survive a late challenge from India’s Singhraj who put up an impressive show to rise from the bottom; he qualified in the eighth place, before finishing with silver on 222.8 points.

“I was nervous throughout as I really wanted to win the gold. And I am happy it came through,” the Ukrainian said.

For Singhraj, the colour of the medal could have been better had he not attempted a dry fire in the penultimate final series. He was in the lead for the first time after shooting 10, compared to Ibragimov’s 8.

“It was a big mistake,” said Singhraj. “I really apologise to everyone for giving up on the gold. This is a lesson for me. But overall it was a good competition and I am happy that I could perform when it mattered.”

“I need to work on my breathing pattern and learn more about the rules,” added the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games bronze medallist.

Complete results from Al Ain 2019 can be found on World Shooting Para Sport’s website.