JAPAN. Tokyo: Indian shooter Avani Lekhara became the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold medal in shooting. A devastating car accident in 2012 left Lekhara wheelchair-bound after she suffered spinal cord injuries. Lekhara finished with a world record-equalling total of 249.6, which is also a new Paralympic record.
The 19-year-old shooter from Jaipur started shooting on the insistence of her father in 2015. Lekhara was “on the top of the world” after becoming the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics gold.
In an open statement, Lekhara said, “I can’t describe this feeling, I’m feeling like I’m on top of the world. It’s unexplainable,” she said after the triumph. On staying calm through the final, Lekhara said, “I was just saying one thing, that I have to take one shot at a time. There’s nothing else that 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. I’m so happy I could be the one to contribute to it. Hopefully, there are a lot more medals to come,” she added.
Lekhara 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).
Lekhara 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.
Meanwhile, javelin throwers Devendra Jhajharia and Sundar Singh Gurjar won silver and bronze respectively in the men’s Standing Javelin (F46).