Tokyo: India’s Avani Lekhara earned the country’s first Paralympic shooting medal in the women’s 10m air rifle standing SH1 category on Monday. Lekhara clinched the yellow metal with a total score of 249.6 equalling the world record.
The 19-year-old also made history by being the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold medal. After swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 & 2016), and high jumper Thangavelu Mariyappan, she is the fourth Indian athlete to win Paralympic gold.
With a total score of 621.7 in the qualification round, Lekhara qualified for the final. After a poor start, Lekhara made up ground and advanced to the showcase event’s finals. She scored 104.9 and 104.8 to qualify for the medal round, before achieving 104.1 in the final round of qualification.
Lekhara began the final with scores of 52.0, 51.3, and 21.6 in the first three shots. She maintained her lead with scores of 20.8, 21.2, and 20.9 on the next three shots. Lekhara fired 21.2, 20.1, and 20.5 in the final three shots to secure India’s gold medal. Zhang Cuiping of China was awarded silver, while Iryna Shchetnik of Ukraine got bronze.
Meanwhile, Lekhara will get a customised sport utility vehicle (SUV), Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, announced. “A week ago @DeepaAthlete suggested that we develop SUV’s for those with disabilities. Like the one she uses in Tokyo. I requested my colleague Velu, who heads Development to rise to that challenge. Well, Velu, I’d like to dedicate & gift the first one you make to #AvaniLekhara,” Mahindra tweeted.