Posted on Friday 15th March, 2024

The New Delhi Shooting Para Sport World Cup has wrapped up with a rollercoaster of emotions. The five Kiwis’ main goal at the event was to earn slots for New Zealand in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. This was the final competition in which they could do so.

Thrillingly, Paralympian #148 Mike Johnson turned around his luck from the 2023 World Championships in September to win a silver medal in the R4 Air Rifle ‘Standing’. With it came a Paralympic slot for New Zealand. Mike explained that after equipment failure and disappointing 2023 results, it was time for a fresh start. The changes he made have certainly paid off in the New Delhi World Cup. Later, Mike also earned a 5th place finish in the R9 event.

Shortly after Mike’s silver medal, his Rio 2016 teammate Paralympian #204 Greg Reid claimed another slot for New Zealand. The Wairarapa Para athlete placed 9th out of a field of 59 in the Air Rifle ‘Prone’ event. While only the top 8 proceed to the final, his 9th place was enough to earn a slot for New Zealand in Paris. Many of the athletes placing higher than Greg had already secured slots and so were ineligible to do so again in this event, meaning the slot was available for him to earn.

For the three remaining team members, there were moments of huge pride and moments of crushing disappointment.

Para athlete Neelam had a strong performance in the air rifle, finishing only 0.7 off getting a slot. She went into her preferred P2 10m Air Pistol event in high spirits and opened with a fantastic string of 96. Then pain in her shooting arm meant she was unable to exert exact control on the trigger, and couldn’t continue in the same outstanding form. She finished 17th.

A high point for Para athletes Natalie Brunzel and Kiranjit Singh was the bronze medal final in the R11 Mixed Team 10m Air Rifle Standing event. Natalie and Kiranjit came extremely close to the podium in a very even match, finishing just a fraction of a point behind their Indian hosts.

Mike Johnson, who is also the Paralympics New Zealand Shooting Para Sport Lead, says:

“I was very impressed by our athletes, and especially our support staff who went above and beyond to ensure everyone was well supported. Our team manager Sonja Bencina did an exceptional job and ensured we were able to perform at our best.

“Neelam did a great job competing. This time she was unsuccessful in securing a quota, but as an athlete that works exceptionally hard, I’m sure it won’t be long before Neelam is representing New Zealand at a Paralympic Games.

“Our other two athletes Kiranjit and Natalie both had courageous efforts in their competitions. They can use what they have learnt in preparations for their next international appearances.”

All New Zealand results from the New Delhi World Cup

Para athleteEventResult
Mike JohnsonR4Silver
Natalie BrunzelR430th
Kiranjit SinghR445th
Natalie Brunzel and Kiranjit SinghR114th
Neelam O’NeillR317th
Greg ReidR39th
Mike JohnsonR95th
Neelam O’NeillP217th
Greg ReidR625th
Mike JohnsonR516th
Kiranjit SinghR554th
Natalie BrunzelR558th