India is in full swing of celebrations after its tricolour has flown high in Tokyo after the country has witnessed the first woman to win a Gold medal in its history of paralympic games. 19-year-old shooter Avani Lekhara has become the golden girl for India by scripting an impressive history through bagging the Gold medal in the finals of women's 10m air rifle competition on Monday. As she stood top of the medal podium, the nation has taken a bow to cheer her milestone and she also has opened the golden account for India in the ongoing paralympic games, thanks to her undying grit and perseverance in making her country proud.
With the sparkling gold, Avani has reserved a place in the club of Indian gold medallists in the Paralympic games. Avani is the fourth Indian athlete to win gold in the Paralympics after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016), and high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu (2016). It is also the first time that India has won a gold medal in the shooting competition. On Monday, she finished the competition with a world record twinning total of 249.6, which has also become a new record set in the Paralympic games.
The competition was intense on Monday. However, Avani Lekhara successfully triumphed over the race to wear the Gold medal around the neck of the country while China's Cuiping Zhang has won the Silver medal with 248.9 and Ukraine's Iryna Shchetnik took the Bronze medal with a total of 227.5. It must be noted that Avani had defeated Zhang, who won the Gold medal in the same category in the 2016 Rio games. What is more significant is that the ongoing games are Avani's maiden Paralympics and she entered the battle with the tag of the world no 5 in 10m air rifle.
Born in Jaipur, Avani Lekhara had sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012. However, that didn't stop her and with encouragement from her father, Avani had initially tried both shooting and archery. According to reports, she has finally picked up shooting as her course and her courage was doubled after reading the book written by Abhinav Bindra, who won the Gold medal in shooting in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Avani had begun shooting in 2015 at the age of 14 at Jagatpura Sports Complex in Jaipur and amid pursuing law, she made her debut for India in the 2017 World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
She has been supported by GoSports Foundation through the Para Champions Programme and her historical feat has added more significance to the women's participation in the Olympics and with her Gold medal, India stands at 34th place in the medal tally with seven medals so far - one gold, four silvers, and two bronzes. After winning the medal, Avani Lekhara said, "I can't describe this feeling, I'm feeling like I'm on top of the world. It's unexplainable. I'm so happy that I could be the one to contribute it." She stated, "I was just saying one thing that I have to take one shot at a time. 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", she added. Back in the country, Avani is flooded with wishes and commendations. President Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter and wrote, "Another daughter of India makes us proud! Congratulations to Avani Lekhara for creating history and becoming the first Indian woman to win a Gold at #Paralympics. India is elated by your stellar performance! Our tricolour flies high at the podium due to your phenomenal feat".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Phenomenal performance @AvaniLekhara! 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". Modi has also spoken to Avani Lekhara over the phone and congratulated her on winning the Gold at Tokyo Paralympics.
He said that this win is a matter of great pride and Avani had expressed happiness at the support she has received from the entire nation. Avani will also be competing in the mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 - the sport class which is designated to athletes with upper and/or lower limb impairment for competition in shooting, the women's 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1, and the mixed 50m Rifle Prone event.
Another daughter of India makes us proud!— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 30, 2021
Congratulations to Avani Lekhara for creating history and becoming the first Indian woman to win a Gold at #Paralympics. India is elated by your stellar performance! Our tricolour flies high at the podium due to your phenomenal feat.
Phenomenal performance @AvaniLekhara! 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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 30, 2021