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Not Satisfied, Could've Done Better: Avani Lekhara After Becoming 1st Indian Woman with 2 Paralympic Medals

Indian para shooter Avani Lekhara Twitter)

Indian para shooter Avani Lekhara Twitter)

Indian para shooter Avani Lekhara the first Indian woman to win two Paralympic medals at the 2020 Summer Games.

Not quite satisfied despite becoming the first Indian woman to win two Paralympic medals, shooter Avani Lekhara on Friday said she had it in her to perform better at the ongoing Games but was done in by the nerves. The 19-year-old, who had won the 10m air rifle standing SH1 gold, added a 50m rifle 3 position SH1 bronze to her haul, making her the first Indian woman with two Paralympic medals and second overall from the country to claim multiple medals in the same edition of the Games.

“I was not satisfied with the gold only (laughs), when I won the gold, I wanted to fire that last shot better…so this bronze is definitely not satisfying," Lekhara said in a virtual press conference facilitated by broadcasters Eurosport and the Paralympic Committee of India. “…that’s what finals do to you, you become nervous.

“I am keeping all the celebrations aside and focusing on the next match, so that is my goal, to give my 100 per cent in the next event also," she said referring to the mixed 50m rifle prone event on Sunday. Lekhara reiterated her admiration for Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra and that she always wanted to become like him. On Friday, she in fact went one better on him with her second medal.

“…when I read Abhinav Bindra Sir’s autobiography, it really inspired me, because he gave his 100 per cent to what he did and he won India’s first individual gold medal. “I always wanted to become like him (Bindra) and always wanted to make my country proud, so that is what inspired me a lot," she said.

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“I am very happy that I was able to get another medal for the country and it is just I still can’t believe it. Lekhara, competing in her debut Games, qualified second for Friday’s event with a score of 1176, including 51 inner 10s.

In the fiercely contested finals, she totalled 445.9 to finish ahead of Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik, who let slip her grip on the medal spot with a poor third shot of 9.9 in the elimination. “…for me it was to give (my) best in standing. And I just thought everybody is feeling the same, so I just concentrated on myself, without thinking about others," she elaborated when asked about her mindset.

Athletes in SH1 Rifle have an impairment in their legs, for example amputations or paraplegia. Some athletes compete in a seated position, while others compete in a standing position. The Jaipur-based shooter sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012 rendering her immobile.

“I had never won a medal in sitting, this is my first international (medal), so I was more nervous. But I just had my focus on my shots. So (in the) last match I was focusing on one shot at a time and it just happened," she said. Lekhara also thanked her coaches especially former Olympian shooter Suma Shirur, for the assistance she gave. “We have a very wonderful team, my coaches, JP Nautiyal Sir, Subhash Rana Sir, Suma (Shirur) ma’am, my support staff, all the team members and the other athletes. “We have a very good environment, very supportive, so that helps. If I had any problem, Suma ma’am kept me motivated and she helped me a lot. It is like a team effort," she signed off.

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first published:September 03, 2021, 15:19 IST