Shooting stars China's ZHANG Cuiping and UAE's Abdulla Sultan Alaryani notch up gold 

Cuiping Zhang CHN in front of Avani Lekhara IND on the range in the Shooting Women's 10m AR Standing SH1 Final at the Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Tokyo, Japan, Monday 30 August 2021. Photo: OIS/Joe Toth. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC
Cuiping Zhang CHN in front of Avani Lekhara IND on the range in the Shooting Women's 10m AR Standing SH1 Final at the Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Tokyo, Japan, Monday 30 August 2021. Photo: OIS/Joe Toth. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

Sharp shooters hit the target... ZHANG Cuiping from China and United Arab Emirates' Abdulla Sultan Alaryani win gold in 50m rifle 3 positions SH1, women and men's events, respectively, at Asaka Shooting Range on Day 10 at Tokyo 2020.

China’s ZHANG Cuiping has consistently shown she is one of the sharpest shooters in the sport and she has hit the target again by retaining her Paralympic title for the third time in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1.

The 33-year-old, two-time world champion, held off an impressive field to win gold with a score of 457.9 points to set a Paralympic record at the Asaka Shooting Range on Day 10 at Tokyo 2020. It was the 14th Paralympic medal she has won in her career, which began in Beijing 2008, and her fifth gold.

"I'm very happy. I've done what I'm capable for and the result is just proof of what I've trained for," she said after the event, which includes kneeling, prone and standing.

"Standing is the most challenging. For me, that position is the one that gets the most affected by whatever you're feeling inside."

But her latest victory came after a tough battle. Germany’s Natascha Hiltrop had been leading until the penultimate round when she was narrowly defeated by Zhang with her final score of 457.1. In a re-run of the final five years ago, Hiltrop, 29, claimed silver.

"I'm not disappointed at all, because three positions isn't my best discipline but it got continuously better over the years," said Hiltrop after the event. "My standing isn't very good and kneeling kind of hurts my shoulder."

The result was also sweet revenge for Zhang, who contracted polio that affected the use of her legs at age three. India's Avani Lekhara took bronze but earlier in the competition the 19-year-old had beaten Zhang into silver when she won the women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1.

"It was a tough final but I'm happy to have made it into bronze," she said. "I could have done better than this. It's just what finals do to you." On talking to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi after winning her gold medal, Lekhara, who is the first Indian athlete to win two medals at the Games, added: "He wished me congratulations and backed me. That was the best wish I ever wanted."

Elsewhere, Abdulla Sultan Alaryani won the United Arab Emirate's first gold medal of the Games in the men's equivalent of the 50m rifle 3 positions SH1. The Rio 2016 silver medallist upgraded to the top spot after shooting a score of 453.6. It is the two-time world champion's second Paralympic title - he won the event in 2012 - and his fifth Games medal in total.

The 51-year-old beat off a challenge from defending Paralympic champion Serbia's Laslo Suranji, 42, in 452.9, who took home silver, and the Republic of Korea's SHIM Youngjip, 47, claimed bronze.

For the full shooting competition schedule, click here.