Granada 2024: Shooting stars put their rivals on notice ahead of Paris 2024

Poland topped the medal table followed by Ukraine and Serbia, even as Czech Republic, Georgia, Finland and Portugal bagged their first quota place for Paralympics over five days of intense action at the WSPS European Championships 07 Jun 2024
Shooters celebrate their success
Poland's Barbara Moskal (centre) retained her title in VIS - mixed 10m rifle standing SH-VI finals with a new world and European record in Granada.
ⒸDaniel Feito / WSPS
By Jeroen Adriaanse l For World Shooting Para Sport

The Granada 2024 WSPS European Championships were marked by five days of intense shooting Para sport action with a star-studded field putting their international rivals on notice ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. 

The curtain came down on the highly-anticipated competition with the medal ceremonies held at the fabulous Las Gardias Shooting Center in Granada, Spain on Thursday (6 June). 

This was also the last competition where shooters were able to earn quota places for the Games in Paris and it lived up to the expectations with 152 athletes from 32 nations vying for the top spots. 

Poland topped the Granada 2024 medal table in the rifle and pistol events with six golds and 11 medals in total, only just ahead of Ukraine on five golds with a total of 15 medals. Serbia found themselves back in third place, having collected four golds and nine medals in total.

Marek Dobrowolski helped Poland leapfrog Ukraine on the leaderboard with a spectacular gold medal in the R7 - men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 on the closing day.

Sowinski hogs the limelight

And it was the outstanding Szymon Sowinski of Poland who put on a show and clinched two gold medals in P1 - men’s 10m air pistol SH1 and P3 - mixed 25m pistol SH1.

Sowinski, the Tokyo Paralympic silver medalist in P3, made the perfect beginning to his European Championships by claiming the glory in his favourite event – the P3. 

The win inspired him to reach new heights. “I feel awesome. This is a beautiful day for me. It was a very hard final, but I shot very well and managed to win,” said Sowinski, before adding a further gold to his tally in the P1 final.  

Compatriot Kacper Pierzynski captured an elusive gold medal in the P5 - mixed 10m air pistol SH1, leading from start to finish to fend off competition from Sowinski. 

Another star from Poland, Barbara Moskal, meanwhile, stamped her dominance in the vision impaired events once again by retaining her European title in the VIS - mixed 10m rifle standing SH-VI. She also added yet another title to her resume after securing gold in the VIP - mixed 10m rifle prone SH-VI. 

Ukraine, however, demonstrated they remain a force to be reckoned with in the sport. Oleksii Denysiuk and Andrii Doroshenko claimed gold in the P4 - mixed 50m pistol SH1 and the R1 - men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1 respectively. 

“The secret to success? I won’t tell you. That’s why it’s a secret. But one thing I’d like to say is that you need to train a lot. You need to love your country and believe that everything will be good. That’s when success will come,” said Denysiuk after his victory in the P4. 

Quota places up for grabs

Granada 2024 was also the last opportunity for shooters to secure quota places for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. With 10 tickets on offer, Czech Republic, Georgia, Finland and Portugal all managed to bag their first (and only) quota place for Paris 2024 in shooting Para sport. 

For a complete overview of the quota allocation for the Paralympic Games in Paris this summer click here. 

Someone who is hoping to be included to the Paris 2024 line-up is Great Britain’s Matt Skelhon. The former Paralympic champion laid down a marker for the Games by claiming gold in the R6 - mixed 50m rifle prone SH1 after a dominant display of strength and precision. 

“I’ve got a quote place. It’s now just waiting for team selection. Hopefully this result will secure my spot in Paris,” said Skelhon.

Asked about the possibility of winning another Paralympic gold, the veteran shooter emphasised the intense competition he faces. 

“There are just so many good shooters. It's so close. You make the final, and then it's a whole other match. More than eight of us are capable of winning medals all the time. So I'm just going to go there, give it all I've got, and hopefully come away with some gold,” said Skelhon. 

Benson gets Paralympics boost

Sweden’s Anna Benson also received a Paralympics boost after she went beyond her expectations to win the R2 - women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1. 

She outperformed a stacked field that included shooting great Veronika Vadovicova of Slovakia and world champion Iryna Shchetnik of Ukraine. 

“I can’t believe it because the R8 is my preferred event. So this is unexpected, but I’m so happy to win this. When I started, I felt really good. I was like, 'Wow, I can shoot in the R2. This is amazing’. It just continued like that,” said Benson.

“This win is very important because it’s hard to train finals by yourself. This gives me a great indication of my form ahead of the Paralympic Games. I’m really happy.” 

R8 success, however, did not follow for the world champion, as Natascha Hiltrop of Germany shot her way to a huge victory in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1. Benson had to settle for bronze instead. 

“Normally standing is my weakest position, so I don’t know why it went so well,” said Hiltrop. “I’m very happy, even more so because of all these strong opponents who also win gold medals here.” 

Slovakia and Serbia reign supreme 

Vadovicova is simply inevitable. The four-time Paralympic champion has almost all of the silverware it is possible to have in this sport. And she achieved yet more success at the shooting range in Granada.  

With a 10.9 in the final round, Vadovicova added another gold medal in the R3 - mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1 to her dazzling medal collection. She also claimed silver in the R8 and bronze in the R2 events. 

Serbia’s Dejan Jokic also showcased his skills with some fabulous shooting on the 50 metres range to win gold in the R9 - mixed 50m rifle prone SH2. A versatile shooter, he also claimed gold in the R4 - mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2. 

Elsewhere, compatriot Dragan Ristic won gold in the R5 - mixed 10m rifle SH2 after a 26-shot thriller against Justine Beve of France. The difference between the two shooters was only 0.2 points - an incredibly close contest, which we hope to see more of this summer. 

Complete results from the Granada 2024 WSPS European Championships can be found here.

What’s next? 

With the European Championships in Granada coming to a close, the attention will now slowly but surely shift towards the main event of this summer—the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. 

All quota places for Paris 2024, with the competition set to take place between 30 August and 5 September, have now been distributed. More information can be found on our events page here.