Abdulla Sultan Alaryani
Veteran UAE shooter Abdulla Sultan Alaryani reacts after sealing his gold medal in Tokyo today. Image Credit: WAM

The United Arab Emirates’ Abdulla Sultan Alaryani became one of their most decorated Paralympians in history when the veteran shooter struck the first gold for the country in Tokyo - his second after London 2012.

He finished with a total of 453.6 points in men’s 50-metre rifle three positions SH1 final at the Asaka Shooting Range while Laslo Suranji of Serbia finished just 0.7 points behind in winning silver. The bronze went to South Korea’s Shim Young-jip.

This was Alaryani’s fourth Paralympics medal in all - having won two silver medals at Rio 2016 as well - in the mixed 50m rifle prone SH1 as well as men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1.

Suranji, incidentally, was the defending champion in 2016, with the pair swapping positions at Tokyo 2020.

“I am proud to have a world record in three categories and since 2015, I have maintained my position among the top five in the world in several competitions. I have won six to seven international medals each year before competitions were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic,” Alaryani had said prior to their departure for Tokyo - striking a confident note of adding to his haul.

“In shooting, you need to maintain your passion and concentration to reach higher levels. Therefore, maintaining our focus and enthusiasm is a priority,” said Alaryani had told WAM in an an interview during their rigorous training camp at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club.

“My goal is always the first place. My colleagues and I are working hard to achieve that. However, the current competition is somehow unclear, due to many changes to athletes. Many of them have gone off the scene lately as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and there are many new faces,” he said - and has kept his ward.

This is the second medal for the UAE in the ongoing Games after Mohammed Al Hammadi won a bronze in the men’s 100 metre T34 race on Tuesday. The athlete who had previously won a bronze and silver in the 2012 London Games and gold in Rio in 2016, clocked 15.66 seconds.