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Avani Lekhara becomes first Indian woman to win 2 Paralympic medals

Avani Lekhara of India won bronze in the women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions (SH1) event on Friday, securing her second medal at the current Tokyo Paralympics. The 19-year-old, who had already made history by being the first Indian woman to win gold at the Paralympics by placing first in the women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing (SH1) event, added to her legacy on Friday by placing third in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event. She became the first Indian woman to win two medals in the Paralympics in a single edition.

Joginder Singh Sodhi earned one silver and two bronze medals at the 1984 Paralympics, making him the only athlete to win multiple medals in the same edition of the Games.

In qualifying, Avani came in second, a point behind Sweden’s Anna Normann. With some amazing shooting, both the Swedish shooter and Avani had bettered the previous Qualification World Record. Avani had struggled in the Kneeling position during the qualification round but found her range in the Prone and Standing positions to climb the ladder.

Avani struggled to get going in the final, earning a 9.8 and a 9.7 in her first two strokes. She did, however, find her mark quickly, shooting a 10.9 in her fourth shot.

Avani, on the other hand, struggled in the third series in Kneeling position, hitting only one of five shots in the above 10-point range. In the prone position, she increased her scores to 51.5, 51.4, and 51.0. However, when others shot better, the Indian found herself bouncing between 5th and 6th position.

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The majority of the shooters in the finals struggled in the Standing position, which Avani took advantage of to gain ground and rise to fourth place. When the elimination stage began, she was just behind Ukraine’s Iryna Shchetnik (3rd place).

A 10.3 saw her leapfrog the Ukrainian into third but Shchetnik shot a 10.4 as compared to Avani’s 10.2 to regain third place.

With only four shooters remaining, Avani was only 0.2 points behind Shchetnik, and with elimination approaching, she held her nerve to fire a 10.5 instead of the Ukrainian’s 9.9 to qualify for the medals.

As Avani ensured India a second medal, the Ukrainian was eliminated. The shooters fighting for gold and silver, on the other hand, were much too far ahead for Avani to narrow the distance. The Indian won the bronze medal with a score of 10.2. China’s Cuiping Zhang won gold, while Germany’s Natascha Hiltrop took silver.


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