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Jaipur's Avani Lekhara becomes 1st Indian athlete to bag a Paralympic Gold in shooting

This para-shooter will be in action again in the R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 event, on September 1.

Jaipur's 19-year old shooter, Avani Lekhara, bagged a gold medal in the Paralympic Games on Monday, by setting a remarkable world record score of 249.6 in the finale of 'Women's 10m Air Rifle SH1'. This win has credited Avani as the first Indian female athlete to win gold in the Paralympics and Olympics too, at large. Previously, para-athletes like Deepa Malik and Bhavina Patel, have won silver medals in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, respectively.

Avani leapfrogged seven shooters to make a mark for herself

She became the first Indian para-athlete to win gold in shooting and the fourth individual to score gold in Paralympic Games, after Murlikant Petkar (Swimming-1972), Devendra Jhajharia (Javelin Throw- 2004 and 2016) and Thangavelu Mariyappan (High Jump- 2016). In the qualifying round of Tokyo 2020, Avani commenced her series of shots with 103 and went on to score 102.8, 104.9, 102.1 and 104.5, as she finished seventh with 621.7 points, making her squeeze into the eight-shooter final.

After qualifying for the finals, she shot marvellously to leapfrog seven shooters in the preliminary elimination series, during the finals and the rest is history. China's Zhang Cuiping took a silver home just like she did in Rio 2016, with a score of 248.9 while Iryna Schetnik from Ukraine finished with a 227.5 for bronze.

Paralympic Shooting Champion, Abhinav Bindra's Eklavya!

After sustaining a spinal injury in a car crash in 2012, at the mere age of 11, Avani started shooting in 2015 when her father brought her to a shooting range in the Pink City. Inspired by the legendary Olympic shooting champion Abhinav Bindra, Lekhara decided to take the sport seriously with an intention to equal Bindra's achievements.

In 2019, Avani set the seal on '10m Air Rifle' and won a silver at the World Shooting Para Sport in Osijek, Croatia. In May of the same year, she also set a junior World Record after shooting 631.7 in '10m Air Rifle Prone Mixed' (R3).

With an intention to make history, Avani overcame many challenges!

Just like most of the other para-athletes, this law student from Rajasthan University, had a tough time during the lockdown of 2020 as not only her shooting was interrupted but her physiotherapy schedule was disrupted as well. As per reports, Avani needs to exercise her legs daily, even though she doesn't feel anything from below the waist and physiotherapy is an essential part of her life.

Regardless, she overcame the challenges yet again with the help of her parents and went on to make history and become an inspiration for those, who wish to join the sport or any other para game.

Further, this para-shooter will be in action again in the R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 event, on September 1. She will also take part in the R8 Women's 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1 on September 3 as well as the R6 Mixed 50m Air Rifle prone SH1 event, on September 5.

-With inputs from IANS.

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