Melton blind shooter wins World Cup silver in Croatia

Michael Whapples with the Disability Sportsperson of the Year award at this year's Melton Times EMN-190730-113754002
Michael Whapples with the Disability Sportsperson of the Year award at this year's Melton Times EMN-190730-113754002
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Blind shooter Michael Whapples took another step closer to a trip to Australia thanks to a World Cup medal-winning performance last weekend.

The Melton marksman shot to silver in Croatia on Sunday, and equally importantly, achieved qualifying scores for this year’s World Shooting Para Sport Championships, in Sydney, this October.

Having missed the prestigious international shooting event in Hanover, Germany, in May, after an administrative mix-up, Michael headed to Croatia looking to nail down a qualifying score.

Shooters can only achieve qualification by achieving the score at events recognised by the sport’s world governing body, including last weekend’s World Shooting Para Sport World Cup, in Osijek.

The Holwell Rifle Club member was entered in both standing and prone disciplines, but illness hampered Friday’s performance at his favoured standing competition.

His score met the qualifying mark, but in the eight-man final he missed the podium, and was the fourth shooter to be eliminated.

“Unfortunately I was feeling under the weather and was not able to shoot at my best,” he said.

“My qualifying was sufficient to get me to the final, and in the final I did improve a little, but still finished in fifth place.”

Sunday was something of a step into the unknown as he made his competitive debut in the vision impaired prone (lying) class.

Yet back to full fitness, Michael belied his relative inexperience to grab second place in a close-fought match.

His total score of 234.3, was within a single point of Norwegian shooter Daniel Waloe’s winning total of 235.1.

“The final was a really exciting competition with the lead position changing throughout,” he added.

“At the beginning my heart was racing and affected my shooting, but I managed to calm myself down and improve to win the silver medal.

“This was even more impressive considering how recently I started the prone discipline.”

With world championship qualification for both classes in the bag, Michael now needs to raise £12,000 to fund the expensive trip Down Under, which will include new equipment as well as travel expenses.

To help him along the way, visit his fundraising page at www.gofundme.com and then search for the name Michael Whapples.