The journey to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, will begin for 10 USA Shooting athletes at the World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS) Championships this May in Cheongju, South Korea. The U.S. Paralympic Team’s travel to the WSPS Championships was made possible due to a grant from the NRA Foundation of $30,600.
“With the grant we received, we will be able to fund these athletes travel to the World Championships,” said Platt. “We are so thankful for this support, but we are always in need of additional funding to better train and prepare for competition as well as fund future competitions.”
The WSPS Championships are the first opportunity for athletes to earn coveted Paralympic Games quotas. A quota is essentially the entry ticket necessary for a country to compete in the Olympic or Paralympic Games. An athlete can win only one quota for his/her country. There will be 225 athletes from 46 countries competing at the match.
The USA Shooting Team traveling to Korea will feature seven Paralympians and five athletes who competed in the 2014 World Championship. Additionally, three athletes will make their World Championships debuts.
2016 Paralympic Games bronze medalist McKenna Dahl(Arlington, WA) will compete in her medal-winning event of R5 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2), R4 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1), R5 Team and the newly-minted Paralympic event—R9 (Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH2).
“I would like to see myself be more competitive in it and understand more the logistics behind smallbore because it’s a lot more involved than air gun,” Dahl told the International Paralympic Committee in an interview. “Really, I’m just excited to learn more about it and become more competitive in the event.”
Joining Dahl will be her 2016 Paralympic teammates Jazmin Almlie-Ryan (Houston, TX), John Joss (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit/Corsicana, TX), Tammy Delano (Rome, NY), Marco DeLaRosa (San Antonio, TX), Tricia Downing (Denver, CO) and Shaun Tichenor (Brainerd, MN).
Making their WSPS Championships debuts will be Kevin Nguyen (Westminster, CA), Stetson Bardfield (Colorado Springs, CO) and Taylor Farmer (Castalia, OH). DeLaRosa and Downing will also compete at their first World Championship in Korea.
“I believe the medal potential is high for Worlds,” said National Paralympic Coach Chuck Platt. “We have some great athletes that are well known in international competitions, as well as some newcomers that have yet to prove themselves. World Cup Al Ain [United Arab Emirates] was a good competition leading into Worlds. The athletes were able to fine tune their skills and better prepare for Worlds.”
To qualify for the WSPS Championships, athletes had to earn a Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) in their respective events at the 2016 Paralympic Games, or over the past year. During the last WSPS Championships in 2014, the U.S. team failed to win a medal, but won two Paralympic quotas.