Plucky Smith misses out on medals in Paralympic finale

Australia’s Natalie Smith finished a creditable eighth in the final of the Women’s 50m Rifle 3-Positions event in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Smith, 41, progressed from the qualifying stages but was unable to push her way into medal contention as she had done in the 2012 London Games when she collected bronze in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 class.

The Rio gold medal went to China’s Cuiping Zhang, who held off Veronika Vadovicova, of Slovakia. The silver medal was Vadovicova’s third of the Games. The bronze berth was claimed by South Korea’s Yunri Lee.

Smith followed this up by finishing 24th in the qualifiers of the Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1 event on the closing day of the shooting schedule. Compatriot Anton Zappelli, 44, also joined Smith in bowing out before the finals when he landed 36th position.

The gold medal for the event again belonged to China’s Zhang, who followed up her success from the day before. Zhang’s tally of 206.8 kept her clear of silver medallist Abdulla Sultan Al Aryani, of the United Arab Emirates, who had 206.5 points. Coming runner-up meant Al Aryani clinched his third silver of the Games. Bronze was taken away by Laslo Suranji, of Serbia, on 185.2.

Australian pair Bradley Mark and Luke Cain both suffered early exits in the qualifying round of the Mixed 10m Air Rifle SH2 Prone category. Bradley ended up in 29th spot, while Cain tumbled out after his 33rd finish.

A points tally of 211.7 meant that Ukraine’s Vasyl Kovalchuk edged past Geunsoo Kim, of South Korea, who clocked 211. 2. McKenna Dahl, of the USA, earned the bronze placing with 189.5 points.

The curtain was brought down on the Rio shooting with the Mixed 50m Pistol SH1 schedule, which did not feature any Australian competitors. Iranian shooter Sareh Javanmardidodmani won gold for the second time in Rio by amassing 189.5. That took her clear of Chao Yang, of China, whose 186.5 was good enough to collect silver. Ukraine’s Oleksii Denysiuk stepped up for bronze.

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