Changwon 2022: Yunri Lee leads South Korea’s impressive run

Beijing 2008 champion shines with twin gold and world record to propel hosts to top of medals table; France's De La Forest shoots record-equalling score 22 Aug 2022
South Korea’s Yunri Lee in action
South Korea's Yunri Lee in action at the Changwon International Shooting Range.
ⒸWorld Shooting Para Sport
By World Shooting Para Sport

South Korea’s Yunri Lee displayed ominous form to clinch two gold medals, including a world record, as the Changwon 2022 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup reached mid-way stage on Sunday (21 August).

Lee, the Beijing 2008 Paralympic gold medallist, opened the hosts’ campaign at the Changwon International Shooting Range with an impressive win in the R2- women's 10m air rifle standing SH1 finals where she shocked Paralympic champion Avani Lekhara (247.8) for the gold medal. The Korean aggregated a total of 249.1 points. 

“It was the first time for me in 12 years to win a medal in R2 at an international event. I won gold in R2 at the 2010 World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. R2 - 10m air rifle standing is always like warming up ahead of my main event R8, so I was lucky to win gold this time,” said an elated Lee.

She also spoke of her rivalry with Lekhara.

“Rivalry with Avani is something I cannot ignore, but I always focus on my own game first,” Lee added.

The veteran Korean shooter yet again displayed her old form in R8 - women's 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 finals registering a pillar-to-post victory and a new world record. Lee’s effort of 461.1 broke the earlier record of Slovakia’s Veronika Vadovicova (459.4).

Thailand’s Wannipa Leungvilai (441.6) took the silver giving her country a first medal at the event, ahead of Korea’s Yoojeong Lee (432.1).

“As R8 is my main event, I was aiming to make the podium regardless of colours of medals. So of course, I didn’t expect to set a new world record, either,” said Lee. 

For Leungvilai, the result left her surprised.

“My next goal is to win a medal at the 2022 World Championships in Al Ain.”

Korea sweeps podium 

Lee’s brilliant show was somewhat matched by her male counterparts with Youngjip Shim, Sungchul Ju and Jinho Park completing a podium sweep for the hosts in R1 - men's 10m air rifle standing SH1 event on the first day.

Shim, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallist, totalled 249.7 points to take the gold after a neck-and-neck battle between the three, while Ju claimed the silver ahead of Park.

Meanwhile, Ju (455.5) dominated throughout to clinch the gold in the R7 - men's 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 finals ahead of France's Didier Richard (440.0).

When the action ended on Sunday, the hosts South Korea with eight gold medals topped the medals table (17) followed by France (6) with three golds. India were third with one gold.

Thrilling finals 

The last three days of Changwon 2022 witnessed some edge-of-the-seat encounters as well.

India’s Rahul Jakhar held his nerves to emerge victorious in a shoot-off to win the to win the P3 - mixed 25m pistol SH1 finals to open India's campaign on a high.

Jakhar held off a determined Jungam Kim of Korea in the shoot-off (3+3+2: 3+3+0) for the gold medal. Trailing Kim throughout the final, the 36-year-old Indian kept his calm to equal the scores 20-all in the last series of the Elimination round.

“It was an amazing final. I am very happy to win the gold despite malfunction of the pistol during the finals. It was a good experience before the important World Championships,” said Jakhar. 

Jakhar’s compatriot Sidhartha Babu had to be content with the bronze after leading a major part of the finals. In the third last series of Elimination round, Babu (230.8) fell short by 0.3 points as France’s Michaud Jean-Louis (252.8) took the gold ahead of Paralympic silver medallist Jinho Park of Korea (252.5).

The R4 - mixed 10m air rifle standing gold medal was decided in the last shot. France's Kevin Liot (252.7) shot a series of 10.4 and 10.4 to take the gold by just 0.1 points over compatriot Tanguy De La Forest (252.6).

However, De La Forest came back to not just win but equalling the world record in the R5 - mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2 finals. The French player aggregated 255.8 points to defeat Korea's Huntae Seo (254.5) after a close battle. 

Mongolia takes first Gold

Ganzorig Ganjargal registered a come-from-behind win in the P4 - mixed 50m pistol SH1 finals and took the first gold for Mongolia.  

Ganjargal, who stayed in the third place in the major part of the final, relied on his consistent shooting to total 212.1 finishing ahead of Korea’s Park Chul (211.3) and India’s Paralympic medallist Singhraj (189.5).

The Changwon 2022 is the first World Shooting Para Sport competition held in South Korea since the 2018 World Championships.

The competition continues until Wednesday (24 August) and you can follow the action and live results here.