Avani Lekhara wins historic shooting gold for India

Avani Lekhara IND on the range on her way to winning the Shooting Women's 10m AR Standing SH1 Final at the Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Tokyo, Japan, Monday 30 August 2021. Photo: OIS/Joe Toth. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC
Avani Lekhara IND on the range on her way to winning the Shooting Women's 10m AR Standing SH1 Final at the Asaka Shooting Range, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Tokyo, Japan, Monday 30 August 2021. Photo: OIS/Joe Toth. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

The 19-year-old athlete enters the history books after becoming the first woman from India to win a gold medal in shooting at an Olympic and Paralympic Games

Avani Lekhara made history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in shooting at an Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Lekhara took gold after scoring 249.6 in women's 10m air rifle standing (SH1), whilst also equalling the world record (EWR) and breaking the Paralympic record.

"I can't describe this feeling, I'm feeling like I'm on top of the world. It's unexplainable," Lekhara said.

"I'm so happy I could be the one to contribute it. Hopefully there's a lot of medals more to come," the 19-year-old said about winning India's first Paralympic shooting medal ever.

Throughout the finals, the Para shooter showed nerves of steel whilst targeting only one thing: to get the job done. Youth overpowered experience when she defeated reigning Paralympic champion ZHANG Cuiping of People's Republic of China, who scored 248.9 to take silver.

"I was just saying one thing, that I have to take one shot at a time. There's nothing else matters now, just take one shot at a time and just finish it," Leksha said

"I just think that I have to follow the process. Beyond that, I try not to think about the score or the medal tally."

Making her Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020, Leksha's gold medal - the country's first gold medal at Tokyo 2020 - now brings India's medal tally to five.

Leksha, who suffered a life-changing car accident when she was 11, started shooting six years ago after her father brought her to a shooting range.

"Summer vacations 2015, my father took me to the shooting range. I shot some shots and they were pretty OK. So I just started as a hobby, and here I am," Leksha said.

She was inspired to take the sport seriously after reading a book by Indian Olympic shooting champion Abinav Bindra, setting her mind to equal Bindra's achievements.

And the Olympic shooting legend congratulated Leksha after her historic victory:

"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," Brinda posted on his Twitter account.

With this victory, Lekhara will serve as a great role model for everyone who is thinking of taking up a sport or a para sport:

"When you are a para-athlete, people start judging you. To live with a disability is a victory in itself," she told the Bridge in early August ahead of the Paralympic Games.

Lekhara still has two more opportunities to add more gold medals to her trophy cabinet. She will compete two qualification rounds in the mixed 10m air rifle qualification, women's 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 and mixed 50m rifle prone SH1 in the next few days.