The Indian athlete hopes her medal will inspire people to believe in their dreams.

Avani Lekhara feels “on top of the world” after winning the historic gold medal for India at the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics. She hopes to be that someone who can make people with disabilities believe in their dreams and that nothing is impossible with hard work, the right attitude and perseverance.

She became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in Paralympic Games. Avani Lekhara clinched gold in the women’s 10m air rifle standing (SH1) at the Tokyo Paralympics. The Indian did it in style, equalling the world record and breaking the Paralympic record scoring 249.6 points in the R2 Finals.

“I am so happy, grateful, overwhelmed. I can’t describe it in words and feel like on the top of the world,” Avani Lekhara told the Paralympic Committee of India.

“As a para athlete I want to dedicate this gold medal to all physically and mentally challenged people and tell them that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve everything in the world. I hope to be that one person people with disabilities can look up to and think if she can, why cannot I? I want to make them believe that nothing is impossible and motivate them to achieve their dreams,” she added.

Focus on one shot at a time

Throughout the finals, the promising shooter from Jaipur showed nerves of steel and stayed focused. Avani Lekhara went to defeat a star-studded field that had reigning Paralympic champion Zhang Cuiping of China, who scored 248.9 to take silver and Ukraine’s Shchetnik Iryna, the Sydney 2019 Worlds silver medallist, who took the bronze with 227.5.

She remarked, “I was just focusing on the process and taking one shot at a time. I gave my 100 per cent. The key to success is having the right attitude, staying positive and focused and not thinking too much about the result or medals.”

Lekhara, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, said she always felt connected with Shooting ever since she started playing it in 2015. The para shooter stated, “Focus and consistency, that’s what I like about shooting. I would like to thank my parents, my coaches, my support staff and all who supported me for this Gold medal. This medal is for India.”

Gold medal well deserving

Chief National coach J.P. Nautiyal was elated over his wards’ show and said, “Avani Lekhara winning the Gold medal was well deserving. She has done exactly what we have been doing in the training, and followed the process. She has definitely set an example for the upcoming shooters in the country. I don’t tell the players to go out and win a medal but to give their best in every shot and that can together produce a great result.”

“Certainly, Avani has matured as a player. Now she knows what is best and how to achieve it. She knows that if you have to reach the top, it would be through only hard work, hard work and hard work,” he concluded.

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