Posted on Wednesday 16th November, 2022

The New Zealand Shooting Para sport team are returning home following the World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS) Championships with “lots of learnings”.

This was a welcome return to international competition after a COVID-driven hiatus.

Five-time Paralympian Michael Johnson explained:

“It’s great to be into the competition environment, against all the top shooters in the world. It’s exciting, there’s positive stuff to take away.”

It certainly was an exciting event for Para athlete Neelam O’Neill, who scored impressive international PBs in both her events, taking 12th in the world in both the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone and the Women’s 10m Air Pistol.

O’Neill, who has enjoyed shooting since age 7, has spina bifida. Her dream is to represent New Zealand at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. If she does, she will be the first woman to represent New Zealand in Shooting Para sport since Alison Smith in 1984, and first woman ever to represent New Zealand in air pistol at a Paralympic Games. This World Championships have helped to fuel that dream:

“Chuffed! I’ll take home lots of learnings to take home and train on and make things better for next year. I reckon I can come back and smash it!”

Michael Johnson was less pleased with how the Championships went for him. The Waiuku-based Paralympian who has paraplegia following a spinal cord injury explains:

“It didn’t go as expected or planned. I’m not sure what’s going on. So, when I get back to New Zealand, I’m going to do some testing with my rifle and ammunition, see if I can get that a bit more dialled in for the next pinnacle events.”

Not one to dwell on disappointment, Johnson is already thinking about the next competition and has his sights firmly set on Paris 2024:

“I’m looking forward to next year. There are two quota competitions, one in Korea and one in Lima, Peru. I’m hoping to gain a quota so I can get to the next Paralympic Games.”

All NZ results from 2022 Shooting Para Sport World Championships

Para athleteClassificationEventScorePlacing
Neelam O’NeillSH1R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone631.912th
Neelam O’NeillSH1P2 Women's 10m Air Pistol549 – 5x12th
Natalie BrunzelSH2R4 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing621.439th
Michael JohnsonSH2R4 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing628.317th
Michael JohnsonSH2R9 Mixed 50m Rifle Prone614.827th
Michael JohnsonSH2R5 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone630.738th

Team bios

Paralympian #148 Michael Johnson

Para athlete Natalie Brunzel

Para athlete Neelam O’Neill