Local star Abdulla Sultan Alaryani displayed ominous form to clinch the first gold for the hosts United Arab Emirates at the World Shooting Para Sport Championships in Al Ain on Tuesday.
Alaryani, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion, yet again stamped his dominance and this time at home, with his campaign being highlighted by world record breaking score in the qualification -1179-60x of R7 – men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 event.
The UAE star continued the momentum into the final and dominated throughout with Slovakia’s Radoslav Malenovsky staying neck and neck only to finish on 451.0 points.
Egged on by a handful of supporters, Alaryani ended with an impressive 462.0 with a few 10.9s and 10.8s to boost his campaign.
Elated by his title win, which also saw him regain his world title from 2018 Cheongju Worlds, the 52-year-old from UAE said: “It feels great to become the world champion at home.”
“I am happy to make my people and my country proud. This was an important win.”
“Today, my shooting was good because my positions were perfect.”
Meanwhile, Malenovsky who stayed on the heels of Alaryani admitted that the final was “tiring and exhausting.”
“It was a big relief,” said the Slovakian who has fond memories at the venue – the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.
“You know Abdullah is a champion, you have to be in your best form if you are competing against him.”
“My aim was to get a quota for Paris 2024, and I got it, so I am very happy.”
South Korea’s Jangho Lee with a total score of 442.9 points took the third place, while their Paralympic medallist Park Jinho settled for the sixth place.
Korea, meanwhile, won the team event followed by UAE and Slovakia.
With as many as 31 quota places to Paris 2024 are on offer at the championships, Alaryani and Malenovsky secured the berths for their respective countries on the day.
De la Forest wins thriller
In the second finals of the day, France’s Tanguy De la Forest displayed brilliant shooting skills to battle past a strong field that had names like two-time Paralympic champion Vasyl Kovalchuk and win the R4 – Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2 title.
De la Forest aggregated 253.6 thanks to his steady shooting to finish 0.3 ahead of Korean Huntae Seo. Both were tied on 232.6 in the second last shot, with the France shooter getting a 10.7 and 10.3 in his last series while Seo managed 10.5 and 10.2.
Great Britain’s Ryan Cockbill, who also stayed in the title contention along with the Forest and Seo for a while, eventually took the bronze with 232.5. The top three positions in the team event were claimed by France, Korea and Italy.
This was De la Forest’s first major title after missing the medals at the last two World Championships in Sydney 2019 and Cheongju 2018.
“The final was difficult, but I am very happy that I could concentrate till the end,” said Forest.
“It will be great to play the Paralympics at home. My aim will be same – to win the Paralympic gold medal,” he said on the Paris 2024 quota.
The other quota was secured by Italy’s Livia Cecagallina, owing to the top women finisher in the event. She finished in fifth place at her debut Worlds after staying in the hunt for a brief period.
“I am very happy and excited. I was nervous before the start of the qualification and the finals. It was a great experience to shoot against one of the best shooters in the world,” said the 33-year-old who started Shooting Para Sport only in March 2022.
The World Championships will run until November 17 with live action on World Shooting Para Sport Facebook page.