Ukraine won seven out of eight individual events at the Szczecin World Shooting Para Sport Grand Prix which wrapped up on Saturday (14 April) in Poland, the final competition before next month’s World Championships.
Around 120 athletes from 27 countries took part in the event which acted as the final opportunity for athletes to earn MQS (minimum qualification standard) in air events only ahead of the 2018 Worlds set for 4-11 May in Cheongju, South Korea.
Kovalchuk cements R5 status
Ukraine’s two-time Paralympic champion Vasyl Kovalchuk carried over his solid medal winning form from the recent World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. After securing silver in the R4 on Thursday (12 April), the 44-year-old struck gold in his specialty event, the R5 with a strong finals’ round score of 254.6 on Saturday (14 April).
Kovalchuk led throughout the R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2) elimination stage, maintaining a lead over compatriot and second-place finisher Vitalii Plakushchyi. Bulgaria’s Milena Todorova was third.
It was the opposite story in the R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2) competition, with the two Ukrainians swapping podium positions. For Plakushchyi, the gold was his first World Shooting Para Sport career victory. Italy’s Andrea Liverani completed the podium.
Ibragimov back strong
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was the last time that P1 (men’s 10m air pistol SH1) Paralympic bronze medalist Server Ibragimov competed in an international shooting competition.
Yet, the Uzbek’s return could not have played out any better and showed his intent for a World Championship gold. After a close fight in the early rounds, Ibragimov stole the momentum when he shot 10.7 and 10.0 midway through the second elimination stage. He went on to win the P1 final with a finals round score of 237.4, ahead of countryman Aziz Ibragimov and Ukraine’s Oleksii Denysiuk, respectively.
Teenager Shchetnik continues to thrive
Ukrainian teenager Iryna Shchetnik continues to show promise ahead of her World Championships debut, winning the R2 (women's 10m air rifle standing SH1) and setting a finals junior world record in her silver-medal finish in the R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1).
The 18-year-old won the R2 event in Al Ain last month, and was uncontested on the podium in Szczecin. France’s Delphine Fischer was second, followed by Poland’s Jolanta Szulc.
In R3, Shchetnik could not keep up with compatriot Yurii Stoiev, who won by 251.4. However, Shchetnik score of 250.2 set a finals round junior world record. Israel’s Yuliya Chernoy completed the R3 podium.
The P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1) was a close showdown between Ukraine’s Iryna Liakhu and Lithuania’s Raimeda Bucinskyte. Bucinskyte appeared to have the victory entering her final round. But an odd 5.2 shot gave Liakhu the 225.8 victory over the Lithuanian’s 225.3 final score. Italy’s Nadia Fario was third.
Ukraine’s dominance in Szczecin was especially evident in the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1). Andrii Doroshenko captured the top prize ahead of Stoiev and Oleksandr Denysenko, respectively.
Home win for Poland
For the hosts, Szymon Sowinski delivered strong performances on home ground by securing gold in the P5 (10m air pistol standard SH1). The Czech Republic went two-three with Tomas Pesek and Jakub Kosek, respectively.
The Szczecin World Shooting Para Sport Grand Prix was the last competition before the 2018 World Championships from 4-11 May in Cheongju, South Korea.
Complete results from the Szczecin Grand Prix can be found on World Shooting Para Sport’s website. https://www.paralympic.org/shooting/live-results