New Delhi : Avani Lekhara, 19-year-old para shooter, made history on Monday by winning the elusive Tokyo Paralympic Games gold. Competing in her maiden Paralympics, Avani shot 249.6 points in the R2 women’s 10m air rifle SH1 category for a Paralympic Record and equal the World Record.
Earlier, Avani who works as an Assistant Conservator of Forests in Rajasthan and trains at the JDA Shooting Range in Jaipur, shot 621.7 points to finish seventh in qualification and secure a place in the final. She has been wheelchair-bound since a road accident in 2012. The school topper believes life is not about holding good cards but playing well with those one holds.
“Phenomenal performance Avani! Congratulations on winning a hard-earned and well-deserved Gold, made possible due to your industrious nature and passion towards shooting. This is truly a special moment for Indian sports. Best wishes for your future endeavours,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Sports Minister Shri Anurag Thakur also wished para shooter Lekhara on her achievement.”Amazing Avani winsFirst place medal. A historic achievement as she becomes the only woman in Olympics & Paralympics to win a gold ! Shooting in 10m AR Standing SH1 Final. Score of 249.6 creating a Paralympic Record. Equalling the World Record,” Shri Thakur wrote in his tweet.
Avani has won many World Cup medals since 2017 including a Silver with a Junior World Record in R2 at the WSPS World Cup 2017, bronze at the WSPS World Cup Bangkok 2017, silver in the WSPS World Cup in Osijek, Croatia 2019 and silver in the WSPS World Cup Al-Ain 2021. She won the Tokyo Paralympics quota in February 2019 in the UAE.
Since 2017, Government has supported Avani by including her in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) besides funding her training through the Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC). Thanks to such support, she has competed in 12 international competitions, attended National Coaching Camps with sports science support along with sports kit. She also got financial assistance to instal a computerised digital target at home, Air Rifle, ammunition and accessories.
Avani will be in action again in the R3 Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 event, along with Siddhartha Babu and Deepak, 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, alongside Siddhartha and Deepak, on September 5.