After scoring 249.6 in the women’s 10m air rifle standing final in Tokyo on Monday, Indian athlete Avani Lekhara became the first woman from her nation to win a Paralympic Games gold.
With her win, the 19-year-old Lekhara equaled the world record and broke the Paralympic record, defeating reigning champion Zhang Cuiping of China and Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik, who took silver and bronze, respectively.
Lekhara is India’s first Olympian or Paralympian to win a gold medal in shooting, giving her country a total of five medals in the Tokyo Games.
Lekhara claimed she remained calm throughout the ordeal, relying on her laser-like focus to finish the work at hand.
Lekhara was participating in her debut Olympics, and her win shattered the Paralympic and world records, as well as clinching India’s first gold medal at Tokyo 2020.
“All I was saying was that I had to take one shot at a time.” Nothing else counts right now; just take one shot at a time and complete it,” she added.
“I simply think I have to go through the motions.” Aside from that, I try not to think about the score or the number of medals I’ve won.
“I don’t know how to express how I feel; it’s as if I’m on top of the world. It’s beyond comprehension.”
Lekhara, when questioned about earning India’s first Paralympic shooting gold, stated, “I’m ecstatic that I’ll be able to contribute to it. Hopefully, there will be many more medals to come.”
According to her profile on the Paralympics website, Lekhara suffered spinal cord damage in a vehicle accident in 2012.
Her life, however, changed three years later when she began filming. She decided to take her passion to the next level after reading a book authored by Indian Olympic shooting legend Abinav Bindra, who congratulated Lekhara on her triumph through Twitter.
“My father took me to the shooting range during my summer holidays in 2015. I took a few pictures, which turned out to be rather good. So it all started as a pastime for me, and now here I am “Lekhara said.
She’ll compete in the mixed 10m air rifle, women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1, and mixed 50m rifle prone SH1 events in the hopes of adding additional medals to her collection.