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Shooting became the first individual sport to award places for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games when athletes from 28 countries won 63 spots via the IPC World Shooting Championships, which finished this weekend.
Republic of Korea was the most successful nation in the German city of Suhl, claiming 11 places, while China, Norway, Russia and Ukraine each earned four spots, and United Arab Emirates, Great Britain and Sweden won three places each (click here for the complete results).
The places are awarded to the National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) of the successful shooters. The NPCs, together with their respective National Federations, will decide if they will use their earned quota and which athletes to send.
The world championships, which featured 265 athletes from 53 countries, confirmed 63 of the 150 shooting qualification spots for Rio 2016. Three stages of the 2015 Shooting World Cup, which will offer 27 slots each, plus six invitations, complete the quota.
Eight shooting world records were broken and one equalled in Germany. One of the most dramatic events was the mixed 10m air rifle prone SH2, in which Finland's Minna Leinonen, the only women among the eight finalists, overcame world record holder Dragan Ristic, from Serbia, by one tenth.
“I cannot believe it,” said Leinonen, the Athens 2004 Paralympic gold medallist. “I just stuck to my routine. When you train enough, you learn to listen to your thoughts and concentrate on one shot at a time. Then the results come.”
Jonas Jacobsson, arguably the greatest Paralympic shooter of all time with 17 Paralympic gold medals, won his 18th and 19th world championship titles by triumphing in men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1 and the men’s 50m air rifle 3 positions SH1, before hinting that he may retire.
“I haven’t decided yet, but this might be my last match, so it was really good to win it,” said the 49-year-old Swede.
In the women’s 10m air pistol SH1, a new event, Iran’s Sareh Javanmardidodmani, who won bronze at London 2012, claimed her first world title and vowed to increase her training programme ahead of Rio 2016.
Shooting is the third sport to confirm qualification places. Five goalball teams and four sitting volleyball sides have already booked their spots, while the first football 7-a-side team will secure its berth via the European championship on August 2.
Throughout 2014, athletes from at least 10 Olympic sports and 12 Paralympic sports will earn qualification places for the greatest sporting event on the planet.