Shooters tantalisingly close to Paralympic quota as Lima 2023 concludes
- The NZ Shooting Para Sport Team completes their Lima 2023 World Championships campaign today.
- With 8th and 14th place finishes respectively, Neelam O’Neill and Michael Johnson came tantalisingly close to earning a quota for the Paralympic Games.
- The Team remains hopeful of achieving their goal in the New Delhi 2024 WSPS World Cup in March next year.
The New Zealand Shooting Para Sport Team bows out of the Lima 2023 World Championships today. Despite the frustration of not earning quota slots for Paris 2024, the team is upbeat about the precious competition experience they’ve gained.
Shooting Para Sport Lead and five-time Paralympian Michael Johnson shares:
“It’s been a remarkable World Championships for knowledge gained and friendships formed. We’ve seen Neelam do amazingly well in the pistol, she just keeps getting better and better. We’ve competed in very different conditions to those at home – and we’ll take away learnings from that for our next big competition in New Delhi. The atmosphere in Lima was incredible and it affirms what we all love about this sport – people from all round the world support each other so the competition can be as good as it can be.”
“It’s evolving. It’s getting more and more popular”
Michael Johnson is a veteran of Shooting Para sport, and the Paralympic Games overall. He is one of New Zealand’s most experienced Paralympians, having competed at the last five Games. A motor accident led to a spinal cord injury for Johnson in his twenties. The Waiuku-based athlete is pleased to see the number of Shooting Para sport competitors and the level of competition increasing.
“Scores have been increasing over time, and shooters are always looking for ways to increase their performances. Things are always evolving. In this pre-Paralympic year, everyone has upped their game – and that’s great for the sport. It’s getting more and more popular.”
Johnson achieved his best result in the R9 air rifle, where he outperformed a large field in the elimination round to finish 14th in the qualification round. Frustratingly, he slipped back in the rankings towards the end of that round, missing out on a finals slot.
Para athlete Neelam O’Neill is thrilled with how the World Championships panned out for her. While the R3 prone air rifle was “pretty okay”, the air pistol is O’Neill’s true passion. Excitingly, she made her first international final in the P2 air pistol event:
“I shot it thinking I was going easy-breezy – and then to get a sixth place! I made the final and I got eighth place. I had a really good time. I’m pretty proud!”
Finishing 8th, O’Neill missed out on a Paralympic quota by just a couple of points to Zhican Wang of China. O’Neill, who has spina bifida, is not deterred and looks forward to another opportunity in New Delhi.
Paralympian Greg Reid takes home a “lot of learnings” and renewed drive to focus on skills and training before New Delhi – the final opportunity to earn a slot before Paris 2024. Reid, who is an amputee, previously competed at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Classification in Shooting Para sport
In Shooting Para sport, there are three different sport classes for Para athletes with physical impairments:
- Sport class SH1 (Pistol)
- Sport class SH1 (Rifle)
- Sport class SH2 (Rifle)