Al Aryani becomes most decorated UAE Paralympian

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Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani made history in Rio.

He may not have captured gold like in London 2012, but shooter Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani is “proud” of the three silver medals he captured in Rio – the last of which came on Wednesday and made him the UAE’s most decorated Paralympian.

The 46-year-old wrapped up his 2016 Paralympics campaign on Wednesday by narrowly missing out on gold in the mixed R6-50m Rifle Prone-SH1, finishing 0.3 of a point behind China’s Zhang Cuiping.

Al Aryani managed to clinch three silvers from four events contested across seven days of action in Rio de Janeiro.

He started off by placing second in the R1 10m air rifle standing SH1 on September 8, added another silver in the R7 50m rifle three positions SH1 last Monday, before completing his hat-trick on Wednesday.

“I’m really happy and I’m so proud of myself,” Al Aryani told Sport360. “I’ve managed to write a piece of history and become the most successful Emirati with three medals captured in one Paralympics. That’s a huge accomplishment.

“I’m very satisfied with what I’ve done, making three podiums, and being ever so close to gold again. Missing out on gold is God’s will and I accept it. It came down to the very last target.”

Al Aryani was a heavy favourite in two of the four events he contested, entering Rio as the world record holder in R1 finals and R7 qualification.

“I was expecting gold in at least two of my events, but I’m content with what God has given me,” he insisted.

“What I have done is not easy nor is it normal. It’s a result of good planning, hard work and determination.

“Shooting is so tough, it requires so much determination and bravery, mental focus… I’ve overcome so much to be where I am today.”

The Al Ain-native has a storied history in the sport and his journey at the Games started at the Olympics back in Sydney 2000, where he competed as an able-bodied shooter.

He then suffered a serious car accident a year later that paralysed him from the waist down and confined him to a wheelchair.

With one gold and three silvers already in his medal cabinet, is Al Aryani thinking about retirement?

“No, I will continue of course,” he said. “With each day that goes by, my responsibility towards my country becomes greater and greater. God gave me talent and this ability to make UAE people happy, so why would I retire and abandon my responsibility?

“I’m already thinking about Tokyo.”

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