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Avani Lekhara shoots gold to create history in Tokyo Paralympics

Given the heavy equipment she has to carry along with her, Avani is accompanied either by her father or mother for every event. Her mother is with her in Tokyo.

Published: 31st August 2021 12:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2021 12:42 AM   |  A+A-

Avani Lekhara smiles on the range on her way to winning the Shooting Women's 10m AR Standing SH1 Final at the Asaka Shooting Range during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Avani Lekhara smiles on the range on her way to winning the Shooting Women's 10m AR Standing SH1 Final at the Asaka Shooting Range during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: On that fateful day in 2012, Praveen Lekhara and his family were travelling from Dholpur, where the former was posted as an ADM, to Jaipur. The car skidded near Agra and flipped two-three times injuring all the passengers. It included Praveen, wife Shweta, children Avani and Arnav and their cousin. All of them sustained injuries but recovered in the next few months. Avani, though, wasn't so fortunate. The accident rendered her immobile, paralysing her from the waist down.  

"It made her an introvert. She went into depression. It was then we decided to suggest her to pursue sports. She tried her hand at archery but balancing turned out to be a big issue," Praveen, who is now posted as Revenue Appellate Authority in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar, told this daily.

The father then took her to the JDA shooting range in Jagatpura, Jaipur. The decision worked wonders as she not only developed interest in the sport but also found a purpose in life. Close to a decade's worth of hard work and dedication paid rich dividends on Monday as Avani became India's first woman gold medallist at the Tokyo Paralympics when she shot a total of 249.6 in the 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1. By doing so, the 19-year-old shooter also created a new Paralympics record and equalled the world record.
The father said this is just the beginning. "She will compete in three more events and is hopeful of winning a medal in each event." Avani is set to compete in mixed 10m air rifle prone, women's 50m rifle 3 positions and mixed 50m rifle prone.

Given the heavy equipment she has to carry along with her, Avani is accompanied either by her father or mother for every event. Her mother is with her in Tokyo.

"I feel so happy and grateful right now for this medal. I feel right on top of the world. I dedicate my medal to all the Indians. It is just the start. I have a lot of competition days ahead and more medals to come. I have three more events and am focusing on them and giving my 100 percent," Avani was quoted as saying after clinching the historic gold.



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