A series of women made indelible marks on the shooting range at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Sareh Javanmardidodmani stormed to two pistol golds, the first Iranian woman to win a title in shooting, and the USA’s McKenna Dahl became her country’s first female medallist in shooting Para sport.
In fact, female athletes claimed more than half of the 12 golds on offer in Brazil.
These amazing performances come in at No. 24 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2016.
With two months now passed since the Paralympic Games, one might assume the dust has settled on Javanmardidodmani’s golden Rio moments.
On the contrary, the 31-year-old world champion, multiple world record holder, and now two-time Paralympic champion, still receives fan messages and congratulations from her compatriots on a daily basis.
“The amount of respect and gratitude that people have extended to me has been overwhelming,” Javanmardidodmani said. “The Iranian people have always been very nice to me but the welcome I have received after my return from Brazil has been even more special. I would like to thank everyone for it.”
The Iranian, who was also voted the Allianz Best Female Athlete of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, is particularly happy because more attention for her story means more attention for what people with an impairment can be capable of.
“Raising awareness for that has always been an important byproduct of my personal achievements. I am happy that I could do so once more with my performances in Rio.”
Speaking of those Rio performances, Javanmardidodmani repeatedly pointed out that neither the P2 (women's 10m air pistol SH1) that made her the first woman to win shooting gold for Iran, nor the P4 (50m pistol mixed SH1) competitions were easy achievements.
“I had a hard time adapting to the situation and I definitely felt more stress than in past events. Particularly the P4 was a very difficult competition for me because I still lack experience in the P4.”
This might be the reason why her P4 win is her most favourite Rio moment, despite her historic victory in the P2.
“Of course, being the first woman to ever claim a shooting gold medal for Iran was also very special,” Javanmardidodmani asserted about the P2 win. “But standing on top of the podium in the P4 had always been my biggest dream so winning that was even slightly more special for me.”
Yet, despite all the positive memories, Javanmardidodmani also recalls a very painful moment for the Paralympic family as a whole and Iranian athletes in particular.
“It is impossible for me to think of the Games without immediately also remembering the tragic accident of the Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad [Golbarnezhad died in an accident during the Paralympic C4-5 cycling road race]. That was one of the worst events for me as well as for the entire Paralympic community, I think. I will never forget this sad and tragic loss.”
Dahl also brought shooting Para sport to new heights in the USA with her bronze from R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2).
"I don’t know if words will ever be able to truly describe the amazing moments of that day,”the 20-year-old said. “I’m just so proud to be an American and represent the United States on the world’s stage.
"Winning the bronze was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I hope to have the opportunity to do it again in Tokyo.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.