Polish pair make VI history in Hannover

Paralympic and world champions also shine in Germany

Three vision impaired shooting Para sport athletes on the podium with their guides Barbara Moskal made history at the first vision impaired competition in Hannover © • Hannover LOC

Poland made shooting Para sport history as two of their athletes became the first vision impaired champions in the sport, following VI’s competitive debut at the International Shooting Competition Hannover, Germany.

Barbara Moskal and Krzysztof Ruszkiewicz collected the gold medals on offer for the new sport class, securing the VI1 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH3) and VI2 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH3), respectively.

Moskal was chasing Spain’s Sonia Rivero in the elimination stage, but the Polish athlete found her rhythm in the third round, overtaking the Spaniard and finishing with a 218.0 score, well ahead of second-place Patrick Moor from Austria. Rivero rounded off the podium.

It was a tighter contest for Moskal’s compatriot Ruszkiewicz, who held a lead of just 0.4 points entering the elimination stage.

Finland’s Timo Nystrom was within gold-medal range, and despite hitting double 10s in his last round, his 237.9 score was 1.9 off his Polish opponent. Spain secured another bronze medal from Zurine Goni.

Hannover’s event, which finished on Sunday, was the first competition to take place since World Shooting Para Sport welcomed vision impaired athletes into their family in February.

Stars shine

The debut of vision impaired shooting was accompanied by top performances from Paralympic and world champions across other classes in Hannover.

Slovakia’s Veronika Vadovicova showed her ownership of the R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1), winning the event with a bullseye final shot. Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik, who upset the reigning Paralympic and world champion at December’s European Championships, came in second. Australia’s Natalie Olivia completed the podium, giving this year’s Worlds hosts someone to cheer for.

Serbia’s Dragan Ristic picked up where he left off at his home 2018 Europeans, barely squeezing out the gold in the R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2). Despite shooting a perfect 10.9, Ukraine’s Vasyl Kovalchuk fell 0.6 points short of Ristic. Italy’s Andrea Liverani took bronze.

Former world champion Matt Skelhon showed he still has competitive fire for another go at a world title. The British athlete maintained a one-point lead over Australia’s Anton Lee Zappelli to win the R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1). Germany’s Natascha Hiltrop came in third.

Hosts celebrate

Hiltrop did secure victory for her home fans in the R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1), where she led from start to finish. Israel’s Doron Shaziri spoiled a one-two for Germany, taking second place, ahead of Elke Seeliger.

Ukraine captured two top prizes in rifles events, with Vitalii Plakushchyi besting compatriot Vasyl Kovalchuk in the newest Paralympic event R9 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH2). Ristic was third.

Andrii Doroshenko claimed victory in the R7 (men’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1), pushing Serbia’s Laslo Suranji and Shaziri to second and third places, respectively.

In only her third World Shooting Para Sport competition, Sweden’s world silver medallist Anna Normann spoiled another Ukrainian gold by winning the R8 (women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1). Shchetnik had to settle for second again, with Great Britain’s Lorraine Lambert in third.

South Korea’s Lee Jangho won the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1), ahead of France’s Richard Didier and Doroshenko.

The R4 (mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2) prize went to Liverani, with Kovalchuk and Plakushchyi rounding off the event.

Ukraine dominate pistol

Ukraine celebrated success in the pistol discipline, winning three of the four finals contested.

Oleksii Denysiuk won double gold in the P1 (men’s 10m air pistol SH1) and P3 (mixed 25m pistol SH1). But he could not take his signature event, one he won Paralympic bronze in, as Russia’s Sergey Malyshev bumped the Ukrainian off the top spot.

World silver medallist Iryna Liakhu secured the other gold for Ukraine in the P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1).