Trailblazing shooter Avani Lekhara on Friday became the first Indian woman to win two Paralympic medals by claiming the 50m Rifle 3rd Position SH1 bronze to add to an unprecedented gold she had won earlier in the ongoing Games.
The 19-year-old Lekhara, competing in her debut Games, qualified second for the event with a score of 1176, including 51 inner 10s.
In the fiercely contested finals, Lekhara totalled 445.9 to finish ahead of Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik, who let her grip slip on the medal spot with a poor third shot of 9.9 in the elimination.
Lekhara had become the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold by claiming the top honours in the 10m air rifle standing SH1 event.
⚡️ First woman in history to win GOLD in shooting for #IND
⚡️ Set a new Paralympic record on her debut
⚡️ Equalled the world record
— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) August 30, 2021
The Jaipur-based shooter, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012 rendering her immobile, had fired a world record-equalling total of 249.6, which was also a new Paralympic record.
Prior to her, Joginder Singh Sodhi was the lone Indian to win multiple medals in the same edition of the Games when he fetched one silver and two bronze medals in the 1984 Paralympics. His silver came in Shot put, while the two bronze medals were won in discus and javelin throw.
Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia is the other multiple Paralympic medallist but all three of his medals (two gold and one silver) have come in different editions of the Games.
The gold in Friday’s event was claimed by China’s Zhang Cuiping with a new Games record of 457.9, while German Natascha Hiltrop took the silver with a 457.1 in the final.
Athletes in SH1 Rifle have an impairment in their legs, for example, amputations or paraplegia. Some athletes compete in a seated position, while others compete standing.
Lekhara started shooting on the insistence of her father in 2015 at a city shooting range.
“She was angry at her condition and hardly had a desire to talk to anyone. For a change, I used to take her to JDA shooting range in Jagatpura, Jaipur where she developed an interest in shooting,” her father Praveen Lekhara had told.
(With inputs from Agencies)