As the last major event before October’s World Shooting Para Sport Championships, the World Cup in Osijek, Croatia, has attracted the largest competition field in the circuit’s history and will hit off from Thursday.
In total, 227 athletes from 48 countries will convene in Osjiek and go for MQS (minimum qualification scores) spots for the Worlds in Sydney, Australia.
Three-time Paralympic champion Veronika Vadovicova will be among the many high-profile athletes competing over the next six days. Vadovicova won the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) gold at Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 but missed out on World Championship gold last year, claiming silver behind China’s Xiaohong Bai. The Slovakian will be keen to send a message to her rivals in the lead-up to Sydney.
At the previous World Cup in Al Ain, UAE, back in February, Slovakia’s Radoslav Malenovsky was the man in form, winning gold in both the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle prone SH1) and R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1) events. Having also picked up R1 gold at the 2018 World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, Malenovsky will be eyeing his first ever Paralympic medal in Tokyo 2020. Victories in Osijek would be a sign he is on the right track.
UAE shooters enjoyed a fine World Cup at home in February, with London 2012 Paralympic champion Abdullah Sultan Alaryani winning the R7 (men's 50m air rifle 3 positions SH1) gold, and Saif Alhemeiri claiming gold in the shotgun PT1 (mixed trap). Alaryani in particular, has long flown the flag for shooting Para sport in the Gulf and he will once again be one to look out for over the next few days.
In the pistol competitions, much will be expected of 17-year-old Indian Manish Narwal who has lit up the shooting Para sport scene over the past couple of years, with his prodigious skills and ambitions to win at least one gold at Tokyo 2020. In Al Ain, he smashed the junior qualification world record when he shot 579 points to qualify for the P1 (men’s 10m air pistol SH1) final, but eventually finished fourth. After missing out on the medals in such agonising fashion, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist will be determined to make amends in Croatia.
Osijek 2019 will also make history as the first competition to include vision impaired events alongside the rifle, pistol and Para trap competitions. It will be the first World Cup for vision impaired athletes since the new class was adopted by World Para Shooting Sport in February.