Paralympic Games
7-18 September

Five storylines for shooting Paralympic qualifiers

A number of great athletes are preparing themselves for three qualification World Cups, the first of which takes place in Osijek, Croatia, from 10 July. 29 Jun 2015
Imagen
Ukraine's Vasyl Kovalchuk took gold ahead of Finnish world champion Minna Leinonen at a 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup.

An incredibly close final saw Ukraine's Vasyl Kovalchuk take victory in R5 over the reigning world champion, Finland's Minna Leinonen at the 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup Stoke Mandeville.

ⒸIPC
By IPC

In Osijek, Croatia, from 10 July, shooters will settle down on the line for the first of three IPC Shooting World Cup Paralympic qualifiers happening in 2015.

But who has an interesting tale to tell or the potential to make history should they make it to Rio 2016?

Here is a selection of the best stories to know about as we head into the most crucial part of the season, where athletes are either fighting for spots for their countries or hoping to be selected to their teams.

Love in sport

Vasyl and Olga Kovalchuk, Ukraine

The Kovalchuks married in 2014 after the World Championships in Suhl, Germany.

As a result, R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2) European champion Vasyl and P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1) silver medallist Olga head into the qualifiers as husband and wife.

Fortunately for their marriage, the pair will not compete against each other as they fight for selection having already secured slots for Ukraine in Suhl.

The legend lives on

Jonas Jacobsson, Sweden

Living legend, 17-time Paralympic champion Jacobsson, recently put an end to rumours he might retire before Rio 2016 and announced he would be attempting to qualify for his 10th consecutive Paralympic Games.

Having first competed in Arnheim in 1980, Jacobssen has seen many changes in the sport. He is also still at the top of his game, having won two world titles at Suhl 2014 – his fourth and fifth World Championships golds.

Osijek will be his first World Cup of 2015, so all eyes will be on the Swede to see if he is still good enough to be selected.

Age is no barrier

Libby Kosmala, Australia

72-year-old Kosmala will proudly compete on home soil between 15-19 September at the World Cup in Sydney as she attempts to qualify for Rio.

Having initially thought that London 2012 would be her 12th, and last, Paralympic Games Kosmala was invited back to the Australian team because she had not lost her talent for the sport.

“A lot of people cannot believe that a woman in her 70s can still be competing in international Olympic or Paralympic Games,” Kosmala said in a recent interview with Paralympic.org. “But rifle shooting is a sport where if you are still able to hold the rifle without any tremor, and you can still see well, you can still shoot very well.”

Iran holds its breath

Sareh Javanmardidodmani, Iran

Since winning her country’s only shooting medal with bronze at London 2012, Javanmardidodmani has become one of her country’s brightest gold medal hopes for Rio 2016 and has already secured a spot for Iran without yet being named to the team.

The pistol shooter followed in the footsteps of Nayyereh Akef and Enayatollah Bokhareai who were the last Iranians to win medals in the sport at a Games at Sydney 2000.

Since London, 30-year-old Javanmardidodmani won her first world title and smashed two world records at the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games in P4 (mixed 50m pistol SH1) and P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1).

Ten year drought at an end?

US shooters have not won a medal at a Paralympic Games since Dan Jordan won silver at Athens 2004

In 2016, they will be hoping to change that.

Whether through pistol shooter and current P3 (mixed 25m pistol SH1) world No.2 Michael Tagliapietra or up and coming 19-year-old McKenna Dahl – to name just two – the race for selection is on.

They will have the home advantage from 3-7 November as the last World Cup Paralympic qualifier of 2015 takes place in Fort Benning.

The first World Cup Paralympic qualifier in Osijek runs from 10-14 July, with live results available throughout the competition.