There was no Australian interest in the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1 event in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro overnight, but the competition still provided some compelling viewing. Serbia’s Laslo Suranji powered his way to the gold medal after notching a winning score of 453.7 points, with the event featuring kneeling, prone and standing phases. The UAE’s Abdulla Sultan Alaryani performed well to land silver and Israel’s Doron Shaziri completed the podium line-up with bronze.
Suranji saw his lead cut by Alaryani but the closing shots of the competition proved crucial, with the Serbian tallying 10.1 points to his rival’s 8.8. It meant he had a useful buffer heading into the final shot as he clinched the gold medal. “It’s unreal,” said 37-year-old Suranji after his victory. “It took a really long time for me. I have trained for over 15 years and this is my first Paralympic medal...I am very satisfied with how I shot today. I was the best.”
Silver medallist Alaryani felt that the day had been a “tough challenge” after earning second place with 451.6 points, which followed his London 2012 gold medal in the 50m Rifle Prone SH1. “It was very tough today,” he said.
Earlier, much interest had been focused on 10-time Paralympian Jonas Jacobsson, of Sweden, who was aiming for a remarkable 18th Paralympic gold medal. It would have been his fifth consecutive gold in the men’s 50m event. However, the 51-year-old veteran did not make it past the qualification round and was left to ponder what might have been.
Australia’s Natalie Smith will compete in the women’s R8 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1 event tonight, followed by Luke Cain and Bradley Mark in the mixed R5 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2.