On Monday, Avani Lekhara gets her name written on the Paralympics history book with the golden ink. The 19-year old shooter who hails from the Gujarat state becomes the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold medal. She achieved the joint world record score of 249.6 in the final of R-2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 to earn the big prize. Avani Lekhara has an inspirational story behind making her way to Tokyo 2020.
Overall, Avani becomes the fourth Indian to bag a Paralympic gold after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016), and high jumper Thangavelu Mariyappan (2016). Also, this is India’s 7th medal in the event this year.
Avani Lekhara’s Inspirational Story
Avani met with a car accident in 2012 in which she sustained spinal cord injuries. The injuries put her in the wheelchair for life. It was Abhinav Bindra’s autobiography ‘A Shot at History’ which inspired her and made her take up the sport. Her father encouraged her to train both shooting and archery and then pick one.
Avani started her training in 2015 and the same year she participated in Rajasthan State Championship where she won gold. It was just the start of Avani’s success in the sport. The 19-year has won 5 back-to-back gold medals in the National Shooting Championship from 2016 to 2020. Winning a silver medal in Para Shooting World Cup earlier this year is another major achievement of her career.
The nation congratulates Avani
From PM Narendra Modi to her idol Abhinav Bindra, the whole nation is pouring wishes on young girl’s big achievement. Bindra, India’s first individual Olympic Gold medalist congratulates Avani by tweeting, “Gold it is! Brilliant display by @AvaniLekhara to win India its first Paralympic gold medal in shooting. Immensely proud! Many Congratulations on your shot at history!”
“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 endeavors.” wrote PM Modi on his Twitter handle.
Anand Mahindra, the owner of Mahindra and Mahindra group gifts Avani the company’s first SUV designed for specially-abled. He announced it via Twitter, “A week ago Deepa Malik suggested that we develop SUV’s for those with disabilities. Like the one she uses in Tokyo. I requested my colleague Velu, who heads Development to rise to that challenge. Well, Velu, I’d like to dedicate & gift the first one you make to Avani Lekhara”