Meet the New Zealand Shooting Para Sport Team: Michael Johnson
We caught up with the New Zealand Shooting Para sport team ahead of the 2022 World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS) World Championships. Paralympian #148 Michael Johnson shares his reflections on the growth of the Para sport and his ambition to take it to the next level!
1. You have been competing in Shooting Para sport for over 20 years. What is the biggest change you have seen in the sport over that time?
I think it’s the scores, and the number of athletes competing internationally.
Scores have been increasing over time, and shooters are always looking for ways to increase their performances. Whether it’s with different sights to improve their accuracy or newer target rifles and pistols that are always evolving in technology.
Setting new world records is also getting tougher. The number of athletes attending World Cups and World Championships is easily 50 to 60 athletes per event these days. With the popularity of Shooting Para sport, I can only see the depth of field increasing even more.
2. You were appointed Shooting Para Sport Lead for Paralympics New Zealand this year. How have you adjusted to the responsibilities of this role alongside being a high-performance Para athlete?
The role fits in well with what I’ve been doing for Shooting Para sport for a long time. I’ve always had a passion for supporting my fellow athletes and improving their performances through my coaching.
I really want to improve our sport and increase the number of New Zealand development shooters. Having this role gives me the chance to take our sport to the next level.
3. In July 2022, you helped stage New Zealand’s first ever international World Shooting Para Sport Grand Prix. Tell me about the significance of this event from a national and international perspective.
New Zealand having its first ever Shooting Para Sport Grand Prix was an amazing opportunity for our shooting athletes; we were able to obtain minimum qualifying scores to allow our athletes to attend the upcoming World Championships in Al Ain, UAE.
It also allowed our athletes to obtain their first minimum qualifying scores for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
4. What are your goals heading into the 2022 World Shooting Para Sport World Championships?
I would love to win gold at the World Championships, and I’d also like to win a quota slot for the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
5. Finally, do you have any rituals or superstitions before you go out and compete?
I’m not superstitious but I do have a routine / process that I follow to take each shot, as doing the same thing perfectly each time ensures you’re reducing your errors and helps to increase your scores.
Read more about Michael’s teammates:
The 2022 World Shooting Para Sport World Championships take place in Al Ain, UAE from 3-18 November. It is a critical step toward the three Kiwis winning a quota and earning minimum qualifying scores for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.