Shooter Avani Lekhara has created sporting history after becoming the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics gold medal. The 19-year-old won with an impressive score of 149.6 in the final event of women’s 10m air rifle standing at Tokyo on Monday. With this, Lekhara has set a new Paralympic record and has also equalled the world record.
Many in India have taken to Twitter to praise her historic achievement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called her victory a “truly special moment for Indian sports”.
Currently ranked fifth in the women’s 10m air rifle standing, Tokyo is Lekhara’s maiden appearance at the Paralympic Games. China’s Zhang Cuiping won silver with a score of 248.9 annd Ukraine’s Iryna Schetnik atood third on the podium. But this is not all – Lekhara has a chance to win more medals as she will be competing in three other events.
A law student in the northern state of Rajasthan, she was paralysed below her waist in 2012 after a major car accident. She was 11 at that time. It was her father who encouraged her to take up sports.
The 19-year-old is also trained in archery, though shooting turned out to be her ultimate calling. According to reports, she took up the sport after reading Abhinav Bindra’s, who is India’s first individual Olympic gold medallist, autobiography.
Lekhara’s gold has taken India’s tally of medals to four, putting the country on course for its best showing at the Paralympic games. Here are the other winners:
Yogesh Kathuniya won a silver in the men’s F56 discus throw event with a distance0 of 44.38m.
The 24 year-old finished behind Brazil’s Claudiney Batista dos Santos, who set a new Paralympic record with a throw of 45.59m.
Indian table tennis player Bhavina Patel won a historic silver medal in Tokyo, becoming the second Indian female athlete after Deepa Malik to achieve the feat. She is also the first table tennis player ever to win a medal at the Paralympics for India.
Nishad Kumar won claimed a silver in the men’s high jump.
The 21-year-old cleared 2.06m on his second attempt to equal his own Asian record. He shares silver with American athlete Dallas Wise.