SLOVAKIA’s efforts at the XIII Paralympics in Beijing got off to a fantastic start.Slovak shooter Veronika Vadovičová won gold on September 7 in the air rifle 40 discipline, scoring 494.8 points. This was almost 5 points ahead of Manuela Schmermund from Germany. Nilda Gomez-Lopez from Puerto Rico took home the bronze, the SITA newswire wrote.
This is Vadovičová’s first win from three appearances at the Paralympics.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” she said after the competition. “I finally succeeded. But it is not just my success, but to the credit of the entire team, which helped me a lot. I did everything to succeed. I trained a lot, and it paid off. In the finals, I had to calm myself down. I kept saying to myself: ‘Calm down, calm down!’ I cannot say how happy I was.”
Vadovičová, 25, is from Trnava and lives in nearby Šelpice. She is registered at the Vištuk sports club. Before the Paralympics she was trained by the Interior Ministry’s Centre of State Sport Representation and rose to become Slovakia's first physically impaired professional athlete.
Her previous appearances were in Sydney in 2000, where she placed 49th in air rifle, and in Athens in 2004, where she placed eighth in air rifle and sixth in free rifle prone.
Thirty-six athletes are competing for Slovakia in the Paralympics, which is taking place September 6 – 17. The table tennis team has the most athletes, 10, and the smallest, just one athlete, is competing in equestrian events. This is the first Paralympics to include a Slovak competitor in the equestrian events.
The most experienced athletes are table tennis players Ján Riapoš, Ladislav Gáspár, Ján Koščo, and swimmer Margita Prokeinová. This is the first Paralympics for all four of them. The Slovak team includes 13 other athletes making their debut at the Games, and 11 medal winners from previous years.
Slovak athletes have won 36 medals at the Paralympics since 1996. The most successful showing was in Athens, where the athletes won 12 medals, five of them gold.