Poland’s Emilia Babska has been practising yoga for the last four years and it reaped rewards with her first major title at the World Shooting Para Sport Championships in Al Ain on Saturday (12 November).
Babska, who is participating in her second World Championships in Al Ain, held off a field of Paralympic stars including Slovakian legend Veronika Vadovicova, Tokyo 2020 medallists Avani Lekhara from India and Natascha Hiltrop of Germany to take the R8-women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 title.
The 22-year-old from Warsaw registered a pillar to post victory, leading the field in all the three – kneel, prone and standing position by narrow margins only to finish on 455.9.
Ukrainian Iryna Shchetnik (452.8) and Slovakian Vadovicova (441.8), who stayed on the heels of Babska, finally settled for the second and third places, respectively.
Paris 2024 quotas
Korea's Yoojeong Lee and Thailand's Wannipa Leungvilai also had their share of success as they secured the two Paris 2024 quotas in the event despite finishing fourth and sixth places, respectively. Lekhara and Hiltrop finished in fifth and eighth places.
“It was a good day for me today. This is my second World Championships and my first Worlds title here. I am very happy and excited,” an elated Babska said.
It is not the first time, Babska has defeated a strong field to win the gold medal. At the Munich 2022 World cup, the Polish shooter took the gold medal defeating winners of Tokyo 2020 Games.
“I have been practising yoga for the last four years and it helps me in concentrating on the game,” added the Polish shooter who trains for three hours five day a week.
Meanwhile, Shchetnik said that it was a difficult final with scores going high. “I am happy to have managed another medal here. Considering the situation where we didn’t have much training, I am satisfied with the silver. Now my focus is only on the Paris 2024 gold medal,” said the Ukrainian shooter who is competing in R2, R3, R8 and R10 mixed team event.
Before Babska’s impressive show, the men rifle shooters were in action at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club where South Korea yet again dominated with Jangho Lee emerging the winner in R1 - men's 10m air rifle standing SH1 finals. Lee didn’t just overcome a strong field of Paralympic stars but also his poor health conditions for his first major title.
It was in fact a two-way battle with Lee and France's Didier Richard exchanging the lead. Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallist Jinho Park (223.9) also stayed in contention for a while before finishing in third place with 0.1 short of Richard, with four shots remaining.
The French shooter eventually ended with silver on 244.1, while Lee shot two 10.5s to finish on 246.7. Ukraine's Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Andrii Doroshenko finished fourth.
Both Lee and Richard secured the Paris 2024 quotas in the event.
“This is my first World Championships title so; it's a special one. I hope to continue this form to the next year and win medals for Korea, and eventually produce a medal winning show in Paris 2024.
“Last few months wasn’t great for me, so I have put a lot of work in my training for the Worlds. I was just focused on my shooting process and believed in myself that worked for me today,” said Lee who puts four hours in his training every day.
In the team event, Korea clinched the gold thanks to Lee’s, Park’s and Shim Young Jip’s qualification scores enough for a world record score of 1877.6. Ukraine and UAE took the second and third places.
Korea sits on the top of the medals standings with five gold medals (three individual and two team) followed by Italy and France with three gold medals each.
The World Championships will run until November 17 with live action on World Shooting Para Sport Facebook page. Live results will be available here.