Al Ain 2022: Paralympic stars headline World Championships field
Eight edition of the Worlds will see 271 athletes from 54 nations competing in 27 medal events and 31 qualification quotas to Paris 2024 up for grabs in UAE
Al Ain, the oasis city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), gears up to host the biggest shooting Para sport event of the year – the World Championships 2022 – with a galaxy of stars including Paralympic champions to headline the field from 6 to 17 November.
The Al Ain 2022 will be the eighth edition of the Shooting Para Sport World Championships, the third in Asia (after Seoul 2002 and Cheongju 2018, both in South Korea) and the first in the Middle East.
After successful hosting of the World Cups in the past, the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club in Al Ain is ready to welcome now 271 athletes from 54 nations that include 198 male and 73 female athletes.
Paris 2024 quotas
The event, organised by Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, also marks the first major event in the road to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games and will offer 31 Paralympic quotas to the participating countries.
The competition programme will feature 27 medal events with the Para trap and vision impaired (VI) shooting events included for the second time in a World Championships programme (the first was in Sydney 2019, the last edition of the Worlds).
The R3 – mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1 will be the first gold medal up for grabs on Sunday (6 November). Great Britain’s Matt Skelhon is the defending world champion in the event.
“We are excited to be in Al Ain and looking forward to watching what athletes will deliver in the next two weeks in the most important shooting Para sport event of the year,” said Tyler Anderson, World Shooting Para Sport Senior Manager.
“This is a familiar shooting range to many as the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club has hosted World Cups for many years. The Local Organising Committee (LOC) has done a great work to give athletes and teams perfect conditions to compete at their best in the World Championships,” Anderson added.
The United Arab Emirates failed to win a medal at the last Worlds in Sydney but has high expectations for their home Worlds. At Al Ain, the team will be led by Abdulla Sultan Alaryani, two-time Paralympic champion who picked a gold medal in the R7 – men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 at last year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The 52-year-old Alaryani will be joined by 12 others including women shooters Ayesha Al Mehairi and Ayesha Al Shamsi, who had a decent season this year.
Sydney 2019 table toppers Ukraine will once again rely on their pistol shooters Oleksii Denysiuk and Iryna Liakhu who took a pair of golds each at Sydney 2019 and will be ready to defend their titles in Al Ain.
Ukraine topped the medals table in the last edition at Sydney 2019 with nine gold, seven silver and two bronze medals (18 in total) followed by China and Italy, respectively.
India will have one of the largest contingents of 15 arriving in Al Ain with youngsters Avani Lekhara and Manish Narwal, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games champions, leading the charge.
Lekhara will be in search for her first World Championship title at Al Ain 2022, which will be her third participation at the Worlds, and her best result so far was a fourth place in the R8 – 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 at Sydney 2019.
“It’s a familiar venue also, the place where I made my international debut, but every match is new, and scores start from 0. It’s good to prepare for a venue where you’ve participated as you can visualise better but apart from that every venue is same,” said Lekhara looking ahead to a good show at Al Ain.
Iran’s star pistol shooter Sareh Javanmardi, Serbia’s Dragan Ristic, Swedish rifle shooter Philip Jonsson, all of them Paralympic champions, are other names to watch out for alongside Beijing 2008 champion Yunri Lee who had two gold medals, including a world record, at the Changwon 2022 World Cup in August.