Shooters from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to make history at this year’s Al Ain World Cup – the first World Shooting Para Sport competition in more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 120 athletes from 24 nations are due to compete at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club from tomorrow until March 24.
Ayesha Alhameri and Ayesha Alshamshi will be the first female shooters to represent the UAE in a World Cup having entered the R4 mixed 10-metre air rifle standing SH2 competition.
The duo are part of a 20-strong team that includes multiple-time Paralympic medallist Abdulla Sultan Alaryani.
"This is a proud moment for us to participate in the World Cup in Al Ain," said Alshamshi.
"As players, it doubles our responsibility to bring home medals and raise the UAE flag in the medal ceremony. We are ready and will give our best in the competition."
Saudi Arabia and Yemen are also set to compete in a World Cup for the first time.
While the Saudi team will field four male players, Yemen will be represented by Zain Omar Zain Al Amodi in the men’s mixed rifle event.
🔥 Thrilling final 🔥— Shooting Para Sport (@ShootingPara) March 16, 2021
Turkey’s Cagla Atakal came from behind to take the gold in the R2 women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1 final at Al Ain 2019 World Cup.
We can wait to create new and exciting moments in 🇦🇪 Al Ain 2021! #ShootingParaSport pic.twitter.com/AR3hSwetU9
Sareh Javanmardi, Iran’s first-ever Paralympic gold medallist in shooting, is one of the star attractions at the competition.
Ukraine will have Rio 2016 Paralympic medallist Olekshii Denysiuk and reigning world champion Iryna Liakhu in their ranks for the P3 men’s 25m air pistol SH1 and P2 women’s 10m air pistol SH1 respectively.
India will rely on world medallist Manish Narwal and Singhraj in the P1 and P4 men’s 10m and mixed 50m air pistol respectively, as well as the promising Avani Lekhara in the R2 women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1 to bring home medals.
Narwal and Lekhara have had a superb start to the 2021 season having clinched multiple titles at India’s first-ever National Championships held earlier this month.
"It was a very nice experience to perform after almost one year," said Lekhara.
"I won six gold and two silver. I took it as a trial match for the World Cup and gave my best."
Italy’s world silver medallist Andrea Liverani is also expected to be one to watch in the R4 mixed 10m air rifle standing SH2.
The Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club is also set to stage the next World Shooting Para Sport Championships in 2022.