China’s Cuiping Zhang may have been out last year, but she is ready for action with less than two months to go until the World Championships. Zhang, who missed all of 2017, will be making her return at the Al Ain 2018 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the first World Cup of the year, and will make history as the first combined World Cup of rifle, pistol, and shotgun disciplines.
In addition to the excitement surrounding the new event, Zhang’s return is highly anticipated, as she will be facing rival Veronika Vadovicova of Slovakia for the first time in more than a year.
Vadovicova is coming off a hot performance toward the end of the 2017 when she won two individual medals in the World Cup in Osijek, Croatia. One of those medals come with a win in the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1). Even with the momentum on her side, the two-time medallist from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Summer Games will expect a tough challenge from the well-rested Zhang.
Also expected to bring high scores at the Al Ain World Cup is the United States of America's McKenna Dahl. Dahl, who won bronze in the R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2) in Rio and is looking for a run to Tokyo 2020, will be the only athlete representing her country. This will continue to give her a chance to flaunt her young talents.
On the men’s side, the United Arab Emirates’ Abdulla Saif Alaryani will be one to watch. Alaryani should convert his veteran attitude into high scores. He won gold in the R6 (mixed rifle prone SH1) in Rio, and he has competed in Games since the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games,
The last World Shooting Para Sport competition of 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand, also saw the United Arab Emirates’ Abdulla Sultan Alaryani notch two world records, one in the R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) and another in the R7 (men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1).
Competition will run from 22-27 March at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club. This is the third-straight year Al Ain, the fourth-largest city in UAE, has hosted a World Cup.
“We are especially thrilled to take advantage of Al Ain’s world-class shotgun range,” Tyler Anderson, World Shooting Para Sport Manager, said. “With Para trap now part of the federation’s family, it is important we continue integrating the discipline into our events and give athletes as many opportunities to compete.”
Al Ain 2018 will provide an important platform for athletes to perfect their skills in the lead-up to the 2018 World Shooting Para Sport Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, which take place from 1-12 May. Cheongju 2018 will be the first event in which athletes can secure representation for their country at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Live results of the Al Ain 2018 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup can be found on World Shooting Para Sport’s website.