Hungary's Kristina David heads to the 2014 IPC Shooting World Championships from Friday (18 July) looking to maintain an upward curve in performance, following a devastating injury sustained just months after making her international debut four years ago.
The 38-year-old stepped out at the 2010 World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, managing fourth place after two "nerve-wracking" shoot offs which subsequently proved to be the turning point in her shooting career.
"That was unexpected success and gave me a boost to reorganise my life, and prioritise shooting. I started training more regularly, transformed my diet and paid more attention to my health," said David.
However, less than a year later, a steady climb to the top of the rankings was halted by surgery to a nagging shoulder injury that physically and psychologically shattered the 38-year-old.
"Due to the injury, I had problems with my stability and that destroyed my self-confidence," she said. "It took me several months of physical and mental training to recover and to build up a strong foundation that can help me handle situations like this in a more efficient way."
The renewed approach clearly worked for David who in early 2014 set a new women's P2 (women's 10m air pistol SH1) finals world record at the IPC Shooting World Cup in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain.
"My initial reaction was, 'Wow, really? I didn't even realise!' When I shoot I only focus on my technique and I don't count the results," she said. "Actually, I didn't even know what the world record had been before, because that doesn't matter to me at all."
In October 2013, David grabbed bronze at the European Championships in Alicante, Spain, beating P2 FYR Macedonian Paralympic Champion Olivera Nakovska-Bikova to a medal.
From an early age, David grew a strong bond with the pistol. She started shooting with big bore pistols at the age of 21, and soon enough, what started off as a hobby turned into an "obsession".
It was not until 2009 that David was discovered by her current trainer Andrea Zakor, which proved to be another watershed moment. "Once I started working with Andrea and competing competitively, I sort of had to start the learning process from the very beginning again," David said.
David's world record result came as no surprise after working with the full-time IT professional. "I was very proud of her as always," a beaming Zakor said. "Based on her training performance, her result was predictable and we both knew it might be close to the world record. It's definitely a big achievement and I'm happy that she could realise the training results in competition as well. "
At the World Championships in Suhl, Germany, David faces stark opposition from Azerbaijani European champion Yelena Taranova and Iran's Sareh Javanmardidodmani.
David has been committed to training in the build-up and feels well-prepared to fight back against her opposition. "I only keep my eyes on my performance and I aim at producing the same results in competitions as I do during training," she said. "In Suhl, if everything comes together at the right moment, I may have a good chance of making it into the top five. But I think there are at least six or seven of us in the competition who are equally likely to win - and deserving thereof."
David is one of 265 athletes from 53 countries who will line-up for the biggest IPC Shooting World Championships in history from 18-26 July.
More information, including live results, can be found at www.suhl2014.com.
High quality rights free pictures from each day will be available to download at https://www.flickr.com/photos/Paralympic.