A nail biting final at the World Shooting Para Sport Championships in South Korea saw Kiwi Paralympian Michael Johnson come away with a silver medal in the R4 (mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2) event. Johnson was only 0.4 behind gold medallist Jiseok Lee (South Korea) who set a world record score.
Johnson is one of New Zealand’s most experienced Paralympians having competed at four Paralympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016) and winning three Paralympic medals. He has now won four World Championship medals including two gold, one bronze and now a silver medal.
Johnson said: “This is my fourth World Championships and to now have won four World Championship medals is pretty awesome. As far as it stacks up against my other three World Championships medals, it is pretty huge. There is massive competition here with 45 athletes in my R4 event alone. It is really tough. Jiseok Lee was a double gold medallist at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and I was only 0.4 behind him. I also bet the Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist along with a number of other Paralympic and World Championship medallist that were in the final. I am pretty wrapped to come out with a silver although to be so close to the gold is a little disappointing at the same time.”
“The shoot-off for bronze against Youngjun Jeon (South Korea) was tight but I just had to tell myself not to blow this as it was a great opportunity, however I knew I would come away with a medal. I just stayed focussed and tried to shoot the best shot I could. He hit a 10.4 and I hit a 10.5 so it was onwards and upwards.”
Following the shoot-out Johnson still had to make up 0.6 points to catch Lee. Despite shooting better than Lee in the final shot series, it was not enough and he finished with 253.6. Lee finished with 254, a new world record score.
Johnson competed in the World Shooting Para Sport Cup in UAE a little over a month ago with mixed results. He said: “As a result of that event I have put heaps of training into the R4 event over the last month. I also chose to use my top rifle for this event and the best ammunition. I knew that I had equipment that was capable of matching my own capabilities. I came to the World Championships as prepared as I possibly could.”
Johnson will now have three days until his next event on 9 May (R5 Mixed 10m Air Rifle prone SH2). Team mate Greg Reid is next to compete for New Zealand on 8 May (R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle prone SH1).
Johnson was injured in a motor accident aged 22 and sustained a spinal cord injury. In his late 20’s he spotted a brochure at Parafed Auckland promoting target shooting and he decided to give the sport a crack. He is now one of most respected Shooting Para sport athletes in the world for his achievements as a Paralympian and also his passion to raise the profile of the sport through coaching and supporting the next generation.
The World Shooting Para Sport Championships can be watched live at www.paralympic.org/shooting