“To maintain top results in the future, you need to go hand in hand with time, train constantly, acquire new weapons and equipment. I will get help in this regard, and I hope that I will be able to represent my country just as well in future competitions, including the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.”
Double Paralympic champion Vasyl Kovalchuk has been in shooting Para sport for a decade and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Ukrainian’s next aim is the Szczecin 2018 World Shooting Para Sport Grand Prix, which begins on Wednesday (11 April) in Poland. The competition will be the last chance for athletes to earn MQS (minimum qualification score) ahead of the 2018 World Shooting Para Sport Championships, which will be held in Cheongju, South Korea, from 4-11 May.
“This ongoing season I really want to perform well because after the victories at London 2012 and Rio 2016 people expect to see top results from me,” Kovalchuk said.
This kind of pressure has followed Kovalchuk since his meteoric rise in the sport.
He lost his right arm in a bear attack at a zoo when he was 11 years old, but adapted quickly. He tried multiple sports before settling on shooting in 2008. Within four years Kovalchuk won Paralympic gold in the 10m air rifle prone SH2 at London 2012. He repeated this success in 2016, taking back-to-back golds in the event in Rio de Janeiro.
Kovalchuk’s most recent triumph came in late March at the World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, where he won the R9 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH2). He also took silver in R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2) and bronze in R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2). Kovalchuk noted that his victories have not been as easy as they appear on paper.
“All competitions are a challenging test for each athlete and the World Cup stage in Al Ain is not an exception,” he said. “I am very grateful to the coaching staff for the help they offered me during my performances and to all who supported me.”
Another challenge in addition to the pressure to maintain top results is the equipment, which is always changing and advancing in shooting Para sport.
“At Rio 2016 I competed with a new pneumatic rifle, which I had dreamed so much of buying after the competitions in London 2012. But time doesn’t stand still and equipment is always getting more advanced,” Kovalchuk said.
“To maintain top results in the future, you need to go hand in hand with time, train constantly, acquire new weapons and equipment,” he added. “I will get help in this regard, and I hope that I will be able to represent my country just as well in future competitions, including the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.”
The Szczecin 2018 World Shooting Para Sport Grand Prix will run until 14 April. Live results will be available online.