Indian para shooter Avani Lekhara scripted history as she equalled the world record and clinched India’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. The 19-year-old girl who was motivated to take up shooting after reading Abhinav Bindra’s biopic believes that this medal will inspire a lot of people with disabilities.
She wants people with disabilities to believe in their dreams and feels that nothing is out of reach with hard work, the right attitude and perseverance. Lekhara became the first woman in the Paralympics to win a gold medal. She clinched gold in the women’s 10m air rifle standing (SH1) after equalling the world record of 249.6 points in the R2 Finals.
“I am so happy, grateful, overwhelmed. I can’t describe it in words and feel like on the top of the world,” Avani Lekhara told the Paralympic Committee of India.
“As a para-athlete I want to dedicate this gold medal to all physically and mentally challenged people and tell them that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve everything in the world. I hope to be that one person people with disabilities can look up to and think if she can, why cannot I? I want to make them believe that nothing is impossible and motivate them to achieve their dreams,” she added.
The 19-year-old showed great determination and focus to beat the likes of reigning Paralympic champion Zhang Cuiping of China, who scored 248.9 to take the silver medal. Ukraine’s Shchetnik Iryna, the Sydney 2019 Worlds silver medallist, who took the bronze with 227.5 points.
She remarked, “I was just focusing on the process and taking one shot at a time. I gave my 100 per cent. The key to success is having the right attitude, staying positive and focused and not thinking too much about the result or medals.”
Lekhara sustained an injury to her spinal cord in a car accident in 2012. She found solace in shooting as she started pursuing the sport in 2015. Speaking about her connection with the sport, she said, “Focus and consistency, that’s what I like about shooting. I would like to thank my parents, my coaches, my support staff and all who supported me for this Gold medal. This medal is for India.”