19-year-old Avani creates history by winning gold for India in Paralympics
Shooter Avani Lekhara scripted history over the weekend as she became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympics, firing her way to the top of the podium in the R-2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event here.
The 19-year-old finished with a world record equalling total of 249.6, which is also a new Paralympic record. She’s the fourth Indian athlete to win a Paralympics gold after swimmer Murlikant Petkar (1972), javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016) and high jumper Thangavelu Mariyappan (2016).
In the SH1 Rifle category, shooters are able to hold a gun with arms. The athletes have an impairment in their legs, for example amputations or paraplegia. Some athletes will compete in a seated position, while others will compete in a standing position.
Yogesh wins silver
Yogesh Kathuniya, the 24-year-old, a B.Com graduate from New Delhi’s Kirorimal College, sent the disc to a best distance of 44.38m in his sixth and last attempt to clinch the silver. On Sunday, India had picked up a silver (high jump) and a bronze (discus throw), which is on hold due to a protest.
Son of an Army man, Kathuniya suffered a paralytic attack at the age of eight which left him with coordination impairments in his limbs. Brazil’s defending champion, reigning world champion and world record holder Claudiney Batista dos Santos won the gold with a best throw of 45.59m while Leonardo Diaz Aldana (43.36m) of Cuba took the bronze.
In F56 classification, athletes have full arm and trunk muscle power. Pelvic stability is provided by some to full ability to press the knees together. He won a bronze medal in the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai with a best throw of 42.51m which also booked him a Tokyo berth.
It was during his time at the KMC that his potential was noticed by several coaches and he soon came under the tutelage of Satyapal Singh at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
A few years later, he came under the guidance of coach Naval Singh. He created a world record in the F36 category in his first ever international competition in 2018 at the Para-athletics Grand Prix in Berlin.
TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.