The shooting para sport competition starts on August 30th, Day 6 of the Paralympic Games. And among the best competitors to pay attention to are Abdulla Sultan Alaryani, from the United Arab Emirates, and Slovakia's Veronika Vadovicova. Other great names in several sports are worth watching this Monday.
Alaryani's first gold was in the R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) at London 2012, and he scored other three silver medals in Rio – R6, R7 (men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1) and R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1). For veteran Vadicova it will be her sixth Paralympic Games, and she pursues her fourth gold medal. The Slovakian enters as the defending champion in the R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1) and R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1).
Other great athletes to watch are British archer archery's Jessica Stratton, a surprise winner in the women’s individual compound W1 at Rio 2016. Boccia player Grigorios Polychronidis comes to his fourth Games aiming for his first Paralympic individual title. He won the 2018 World Championships and the European title the following year.
Abdulla Sultan Alaryani (UAE)
Alaryani was once known as the “King of the 50 metres,” and for good reason, medalling in the distance at both the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Paralympics. His gold in the R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) in London got things started, and Alaryani has remained a force to be reckoned with since. He won three silver medals in Rio – R6, R7 (men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1) and R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1), and no doubt he hopes to turn those into gold at Tokyo 2020. He has proven he can, especially after a memorable performance at the 2018 World Championships. In the R7, Alaryani battled illness to win by more than 10 points. He also won the R6, once again showing his sharpness in the 50m.
Veronika Vadovicova (SVK)
A veteran and legend in the making, Vadovicova made her international debut in 1999 and has consistently been the one many rifle shooters are aiming to beat. One of the sport’s all-time greats, the Slovakian continues to bat away challengers as she goes up against the sport’s next generation of stars. She will be looking to add a fourth Paralympic title in Tokyo, at her sixth straight Paralympic Games. Along the way she has set – and still holds – many records, including world and Paralympic, and an incredible seven World Cup titles in 2017 alone. Expected to compete at almost every rifle event in Tokyo, she will enter as the defending champion in the R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1) and R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1). Her 2019 Worlds was not her strongest showing, leaving with only one gold in her four individual events – the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1). But expect her to remain sharp as ever this summer.
Jessica Stretton (GBR)
Stretton was a surprise winner in the women’s individual compound W1 at Rio 2016 as the youngest archer competing. At Tokyo 2020, the challenge will be far greater. Not only is Stretton getting more attention as a returning Paralympic champion, but she hopes to repeat the feat in a new division. The 21-year-old recently switched to the compound open in which she won silver at the 2019 Worlds, setting a new world record throughout.
Grigorios Polychronidis (GRE)
Polychronidis, who also goes by Greg, took up boccia with the dream of participating in his home Paralympics at Athens 2004. That dream became a reality after he found himself in the quarter-finals of the individual BC3 event in Athens. But reaching the Paralympics was not the end goal. In the next three Paralympics, Polychronidis has felt the heartbreak of missing out on an individual title. The Greek finally secured his first major individual gold at the 2018 World Championships, where he beat South Korea’s Howon Jeong, the very opponent whom he lost to in the gold medal match at the 2016 Paralympics. After a European title in 2019, the veteran athlete has experience on his side as he targets Paralympic glory.
Bolo Triyanto (INA)
Triyanto continues to prove why it is never too late to chase your dreams. He came to shooting Para sport after finishing his career in athletics to compete at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games. There to more than just compete, Triyanto returned home with a pair of medals, silver in R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2) and bronze in the R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2). While he missed out on the podium at his home 2018 Asian Para Games, he recently posted a top-five finish at this summer’s Lima World Cup. Triyanto trains with his wife, who also competes for the Indonesian national team and is hoping to join him in competing at this summer’s Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Jaryd Clifford (AUS)
The Australian made his Paralympic debut at only 17 years old in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, finishing seventh in the 1,500m and 5,000m T13. Five years on, he comes to Tokyo as the man to beat in the middle-distance T13 races after winning gold in both events at Dubai 2019, as well as setting a new world record in the 1,500m.
Mansour Pourmirzaei (IRI)
There will only be one Siamand Rahman, known as the strongest Paralympian ever who sadly passed away in March 2020. But Pourmirzaei seeks to honour his compatriot’s legacy as he forges his own path in the men’s over 107kg category. Pourmirzaei had usually finished behind Rahman, whose world record 310kg lift has been unmatched since 2016. Going at his own pace, Pourmirzaei has shown his own strength, recently winning the Bangkok 2021 World Cup with a 249kg lift. Tokyo 2020 will be his first Games.
David Drahoninsky (CZE)
Drahoninsky is a role model of consistency in Para archery. His long list of accolades goes back to his gold in the men’s individual compound W1 at Beijing 2008. He followed that up with two silvers in the same event at London 2012 and Rio 2016. After almost two decades in the sport, the world No. 2 is still in top competitive form, most recently winning the bronze medal at the 2019 Worlds.
Ihar Boki (BLR)
Boki is in great form going into Tokyo, having won six golds and one silver at June’s European Championships in Madeira. He also broke two world records in the men’s 100m butterfly S13 and the 200m individual medley SM13. The vision impaired swimmer has showcased his excellence when he won four world titles in 2010. His dominance at London 2012, his first Paralympics, saw him captured five gold and a silver medal, and broke four world records in men's S13 events. Having finished Rio 2016 with the most gold medals won by any athlete across all sports, the Belarusian will hope to be on the podium once again in Tokyo.