Paralympic champion Abdullah Sultan Alaryani opened his home International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport Federation (IWAS) World Games with a gold in shooting in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Monday (11 February).
Alaryani stormed to the top of the podium in R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) with a score of 621.7.
Germany’s Norbert Gau (618.5) claimed silver whilst bronze was collected by another athlete from the UAE – Obaid Al Dahmani (617.2).
A delighted Abdullah Alaryani said: “I am proud to have brought the UAE its first gold medal in this sporting category. All our achievements are a result of hard work and dedication shown by us, which have always received the unwavering support of our wise leadership.
“Earlier in the competition, I was a bit nervous facing the world’s best in this category of sport, however, I kept that aside to go ahead and give everything I had. A huge part of my victory was enabled by the fantastic crowds and supporters who came in with their positivity and created an electrifying atmosphere, which fuelled my performance.”
Germany enjoyed double gold in the other events on the range at the Al Dhaid Sports Club on Monday.
In R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) it was Elke Seeliger (604.5) who triumphed, just overcoming Uzbekistan’s Malika Kenjaeva (602.8).
Kenjaeva had the edge to begin with, but a score of 102 in the final series saw Seeliger claim the gold.
Latifa Alsuwaidi (433.9) picked up UAE’s third medal of the day with bronze.
Tim Focken (612.5) sealed Germany’s second gold in R9 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH2), maintaining scores above 100 to beat Austrian silver medallist Johann Windhofer (602.7). Abdullah Alahbabi (601.5) rounded off an excellent day for his country, making a full house of podium finishes for the UAE in shooting.
China claimed all but one of the golds on offer on the opening day of action at the World Games, which is also the first Wheelchair Fencing World Cup of 2019.
An incredibly close and tense match between British world champion Dimitri Coutya and China’s Paralympic silver medallist Daoliang Hu in the men’s foil B ended with gold for Hu – but only just.
The men swapped the lead early in the match before Hu put some distance between him and his opponent.
However Coutya managed to catch-up before a fall from his fencing chair interrupted his rhythm. Hu capitalised and with a final few key hits won the duel 15-14.
Russia* took both bronze medals courtesy of Albert Kamalov and Alexander Kuzyukov.
Two other gold medal bouts in the women’s epee A and men’s foil A featured an all-Chinese line-up.
In the women’s epee A, Xufeng Zou overcame her teammate Jian Bing 15-13. Jing Rong also took bronze for China alongside Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee.
In the men’s foil A, Gang Sun got the better of Sai Chun Zhong with a 15-12 scoreline.
Italy’s Matteo Betti and Ukraine’s Andrii Demchuk completed the podium with bronze.
Thailand’s Paralympic silver medallist Saysunee Jana was absolutely delighted with her opening win of 2019 in the women’s epee B.
Jana eased passed Russia’s world champion Viktoria Boykova 15-5.
“I handled it like I thought I could do it so I am proud,” Jana said before looking towards September’s IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea: “I think it is a big match and I want to shine.”
Belarus’ Alesia Makrytskaya and Japan’s Anri Sakurai both took bronze.
The 2019 World Games continue until 16 February. As well as shooting and wheelchair fencing, five other sports are on the programme.
Athletics, badminton, table tennis, swimming and archery all get underway on 13 February.
Full results are available on the IWAS website.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games