Avani Lekhara, who won a gold medal for India in the Women's 10m air rifle category on Monday at Tokyo Paralympics 2020, is an Indian Para Rifle Shooter. She is the first Indian woman to win a gold at the Paralympics and shot 249.6 in the final to equal the World Record and clinch the medal.
Before the gold win, Lekhara was World No 5 in Women's 10m Air Rifle standing SH1. The athlete also participated in the 2018 Asian Para Games R2 - Women's 10M Air Rifle Standing, R3 - Mixed 10M Air Rifle Prone, R6 - Mixed 50M Rifle Prone and R8 - Women's 50M Rifle 3.
Lekhara met with a car accident in 2012 at the age of 11 and suffered injuries to her spinal cord, which resulted in Paraplegia - or paralysis that affects all or parts of the torso, legs and pelvic organs. However, this could not deter her aspirations and found interest in shooting after her father took her to a shooting range.
Avani calls Indian Olympian Abhinav Bindra's gold win her inspiration and wanted to emulate her icon to win gold for the country in the shooting category. Abhinav Bindra won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics.
Lekhara has been supported by GoSports Foundation through the Para Champions Programme. In her Tokyo Paralympics journey, Avani registered scores of 104.9 and 104.8 in her third and fourth attempt respectively before finishing the qualification with a score of 104.1 in her final attempt.
Avani's gold marks the fourth medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games so far. Her win comes after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016) and high jumper Thangavelu Mariyappan (2016).
In the SH1 Rifle category, the one Avani contested in, shooters are allowed to hold a gun with arms as the athletes have an impairment in their legs, for example, amputations or paraplegia.
Some athletes compete in a seated position, while others will compete in a standing position