Tokyo Paralympics 2020: Shooter Avani Lekhara becomes first Indian woman to win gold at Games
Avani is the fourth Indian athlete to win a Paralympics gold after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016) and high jumper Thangavelu Mariyappan (2016).
Tokyo: Shooter Avani Lekhara scripted history on Monday as she became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympics, firing her way to the top of the podium in the R-2 women's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event here.
The 19-year-old from Jaipur, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, finished with a world record equalling total of 249.6, which is also a new Paralympic record.
Avani Lekhara grabs the first EVER #Gold for #IND in #ShootingParaSport!! And she equaled the world record (249.6).
How AMAZING is that! 👏 #ShootingParaSport #Paralympics #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/aJqytbf71n
— Doordarshan Sports (@ddsportschannel) August 30, 2021
She is only the fourth Indian athlete to win a Paralympics gold after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016) and high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu (2016).
"I can't describe this feeling, I'm feeling like I'm on top of the world. It's unexplainable," an elated Lekhara said.
Hers is also the first shooting medal that India has logged in the showpiece.
"I'm so happy I could be the one to contribute it. Hopefully there's a lot of medals more to come," Lekhara said.
India's 🇮🇳 Avani Lakhera receives the gold medal before the Indian national anthem echoes in the shooting range#Paralympics
Video courtesy: @EurosportIN
Read her story here: https://t.co/dKTgujyKcU
— Firstpost Sports (@FirstpostSports) August 30, 2021
Lekhara edged out 2016 Rio Games gold-medallist Cuiping Zhangh of China who clinched the silver medal with a total of 248.9 at the Asaka Shooting Range.
World number one and reigning world campion Iryna Shchetnik of Ukraine took home the bronze with an effort of 227.5.
"I was just saying one thing, that I have to take one shot at a time. There's nothing else matters now, just take one shot at a time and just finish it.
"I just think that I have to follow the process. Beyond that, I try not to think about the score or the medal tally," Lekhara said reflecting on her final.
This is Lekhara's first major international medal. She had finished fourth in the last world championship in 2019.
Appearing in her maiden Paralympics, Lekhara, ranked fifth in the world, consistently shot 10s in both the competition stages.
In the qualification round, Lekhara had finished seventh with a total 621.7.
She will also be competing in the mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1, the women's 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1 and the mixed 50m Rifle Prone event.
In the SH1 Rifle category, shooters are able to hold a gun with arms.
The athletes have an impairment in their legs, for example amputations or paraplegia.
Some athletes will compete in a seated position, while others will compete in a standing position.
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Lekhara met with a car accident in 2012 and suffered spinal cord injuries. She started shooting after reading Abhinav Bindra's autobiography.
Tokyo Paralympics 2020: 'Not satisfied, could've done better,' says Avani Lekhara
"I was not satisfied with the gold only (laughs), when I won the gold, I wanted to fire that last shot better...so this bronze is definitely not satisfying," Lekhara said.
Tokyo Paralympics 2020: 'Congratulations on your shot at history,' wishes pour in for Avani Lekhara as she wins gold
Avani Lekhara is the fourth Indian athlete to win a Paralympics gold after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016), and high jumper Thangavelu Mariyappan (2016).