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Indian paralympic shooter Avani Lekhara scripted history on Monday (August 30) 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 in Tokyo. 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.

“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.

First-ever international medal for Avani Lekhara

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. She was set to obliterate the world record but two 9.9s towards the end cost her the mark.

Tried hand at both archery and shooting

Encouraged by her father to get involved in a sport, Lekhara initially tried both shooting and archery. She found she enjoyed shooting more, and was also inspired by 2008 Beijing Olympics gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra after reading his book.

She began shooting in 2015 at Jagatpura Sports Complex in Jaipur. A student of law, Lekhara made her debut for India in 2017 World Cup in Al Ain, UAE.

Watch national anthem ringing in Tokyo for Avani Lekhara…

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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