Indian shooter Avani Lekhara clinched India's first gold medal in the women's 10m AR Air Rifle Standing SH1 at the 2021 Paralympics. Not only did she win a gold medal, Avani also equalled the World Record (249.6). It was India's first gold at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics.
Avani Lekhara's life story:
Avani Lekhara suffered a life-threatening accident at the age of 11, in 2012. The horrific incident left her paralyzed and wheelchair bound. Even today she faces complications due to the gruesome incident. However, Avani has defied all odds to become India's best para-shooter.
Succumbing to massive physical injuries took a toll on her mental health. She also failed to gain admission to schools immediately after her accident. As a result, she was homeschooled for two years.
Avani Lekhara is India's para- rifle shooter. Lekhara also holds the credit of participating in the R3 – Mixed 10M Air Rifle Prone, R6 – Mixed 50M Rifle Prone, R2 – Women’s 10M Air Rifle Standing and R8 – Women’s 50M Rifle 3 Position.
Avani Lekhara's introduction to sports:
Despite her physical and mental trauma, Avani Lekhara never stopped dreaming big in life. She always dreamt of either winning a gold medal for the country or becoming a judge.
Visiting a shooting range with her father during a summer vacation opened up a new horizon for Avani to explore. Prior to the shooting, her father had introduced Avani to archery as well.
She is currently pursuing her BA LLB degree in Law from the University of Rajasthan.
Abhinav Bindra is Avani's inspiration:
Avani's life changed after she read Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra's autobiography, 'A Shot At History'. It inspired her to take up shooting. Abhinav Bindra is an inspiration to millions, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medal winning rifle shooter has done his magic on Avani as well.
Avani Lekhara's achievements:
Today, the 2021 Paralympic gold medal glory will top all her achievement charts.
Avani announced herself in the world of para shooting in 2015. In her very first Rajasthan state championship in 2015, Lekhara won bronze. SInce then she has done exceptionally well at the international level.
Avani Lekhara won a silver medal at the IPC Para Shooting World Cup in 2017. She added another medal after winning silver at the 2019 Para Shooting World Cup in Osijek, Croatia. Avani scored 248.7 in the final and missed out on gold by a 0.3 point margin.
Lekhara won gold at the first national para-shooting championships in the women's R2 10m air rifle women's SH1 earlier this year. Avani Lekhara is currently ranked fifth in the women's 10m air rifle standing SH1.
Also read: All you need to know about Avani Lekhara - India's rifle shooter at the Paralympics