More than halfway through the Sydney 2019 World Shooting Para Sport Championships, and one of the sport’s greats, Veronika Vadovicova, was nowhere found on the individual podium. But that changed on Wednesday in Australia.
Just when it seemed the multi-Paralympic and world champion would leave Sydney without a medal, the Slovakian came back to take the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) title.
She did so in style.
“R2 is my best discipline,” Vadovicova said. “Usually this is the first discipline I compete in, and when I medal, the next disciplines are also better.”
Vadovicova failed to medal in her first two events in Sydney: the R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1) and R8 (women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1). She was the 2018 world champion in both.
“[This time] It was difficult for me. I won R3 qualification but I finished eighth in the final. I was unlucky,” she said.
Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik had been the leader throughout most of Wednesday’s R2 final. In fact, earlier in the day, the 19-year-old had recorded a qualifying world record, and she seemed positioned to break her own finals world record.
But one bad shot changed everything.
The teenager hit a low 9.4 in her sixth shot series that cut her lead to 0.1. When it mattered most for Shchetnik, she hit the nine-ring twice in her last series.
Vadovicova meanwhile consistently found the 10-ring, as well as her winning form to take gold by 1.6 points ahead of the Ukrainian.
It would have been Shchetnik’s first individual gold medal. At the conclusion of the match, she looked at the ground for a moment to absorb what just happened, then looked up at the crowd and waved with a wide smile.
China’s Cuiping Zhang finished with the bronze.
“Iryna is a very good shooter,” Vadovicova acknowledged. “I was lucky.”
Gold medal collection complete
Shchetnik’s misfortune seemed to carryover from the earlier men’s equivalent, R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1).
Her compatriot Andrii Doroshenko also saw gold slip away.
The win was very much in his hands until he shot 9.8 and 9.7 to finish 0.6 points short of China’s Dong Chao.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic champion had been chasing this one medal for years.
“This medal has completed my collection of gold medals: the World Championships, World Cups, Asian Championships and national championships. This completes the full grand.
“Shooting tests your mental and emotional activity, teaches you how to control it. After lots of experiences from winning and losing, I think I learned how to control those and it helped me win today.”
Fellow countryman Tian Fugang competed the podium.
Action continues on Thursday with VIS (vision impaired mixed 10m air rifle standing SH-VI), R9 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH2) and P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1).
The Sydney 2019 World Shooting Para Sport Championships run until Friday. You can follow the competition live on the Sydney 2019 website, World Shooting Para Sport Facebook and Twitter pages.