An incredibly close final saw Ukraine's Vasyl Kovalchuk take victory in R5 over the reigning world champion, Finland's Minna Leinonen at the 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup Stoke Mandeville. © • IPC
IPC Shooting has confirmed that a record number of countries will compete at the World Cup in Osijek, Croatia, from 10-14 July, as nearly 230 athletes from 48 nations prepare to line up for the first Rio 2016 Paralympic Games qualifier of 2015.
An exciting mix of newcomers, Paralympic and world champions will make the journey to Osijek.
Amongst the most exciting prospects is Iran’s Sareh Javanmardidodmani, who has been making her way through the ranks since winning bronze at London 2012.
Javanmardidodmani is the world champion and record holder in P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1) but will face a tough challenge from all 2013 and 2014 World and European Championships medallists.
The field includes Azerbaijan’s European champion Yelena Taranova and Hungarian Worlds silver medallist Krisztina David, who returns for her first event of the season having undergone heart surgery in February.
The P1 (men’s 10m air pistol SH1) is equally as star-studded, with Polish European gold medallist Filip Rodzik and Russian Sergey Malyshev, who won silver at the 2014 World Championships in Suhl, Germany.
Rounding out the pistol events are Sweden’s Joackim Norberg and Turkey’s Cevat Karagol, the respective world champions in P3 (mixed 25m pistol SH1) and P4 (mixed 50m pistol SH1).
In rifle competitions, Slovakia’s world and European gold medallist Veronika Vadovicova will be aiming to maintain her form having won at three World Cups already this year. The 32-year-old also enjoyed a double Euros victory in 2013 before going on to win the world title in R2 (women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) at Suhl 2014.
However Vadovicova was beaten to the top of the podium in R8 (women’s 50m rifle three positions SH1) by Cuiping Zhang in Germany. The Chinese athlete will be in Osijek for her first competition of 2015.
Great Britain’s Matt Skelhon, recently engaged to his long-term girlfriend, will be aiming to celebrate with a good performance in R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) as the reigning world champion and record holder.
Amongst his opponents is the UAE’s Paralympic champion Abdullah Sultan Alaryani, with the pair preparing for another face-off in R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1).
Serbian Laslo Suranji, the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) European champion and R7 (men’s 50m rifle three positions SH1) silver medallist, will also have his eye on serial podium finisher Alaryani in both events.
Suranji’s teammate Dragan Ristic, a fellow European champion, is also a favourite in R5 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2).
French Worlds bronze medallist Tanguy de la Forest has enjoyed good form this season in R4 (mixed 10 air rifle standing SH2), beating Ukraine’s European champion Vasyl Kovalchuk to gold in their last World Cup meeting in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain.
Competition begins in Osijek with R1, R2 and P3 on Friday (10 July) and concludes on 14 July.