Indian ace shooter Avani Lekhara claimed a second medal in R8 - Women's 50m Rifle 3P SH1 event, winning bronze with a score of 445.9 at the Tokyo Paralympics on Friday (September 3). Earlier, Avani Lekhara scripted history earlier this week 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 in Tokyo. The 19-year-old from Jaipur, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, finished with a world record equalling total of 249.6, which is also a new Paralympic record.
The 19-year-old Lekhara qualified second for the event with a score of 1176, including 51 inner 10s. In the fiercely contested finals, Lekhara 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.
The Jaipur-based shooter, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, had fired a world record equalling total of 249.6, which was also a new Paralympic record. Prior to her, Joginder Singh Sodhi was the lone Indian to win multiple medals in the same edition of the Games when he fetched one silver and two bronze medals in the 1984 Paralympics.
His silver came in shot put, while the two bronze medals were won in discus and javelin throw. The gold in Friday's event was claimed by China's Zhang Cuiping with a new Games record of 457.9, while German Natascha Hiltrop took the silver with a 457.1 in the final.
Athletes in SH1 Rifle 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.
Avani, who won India's first gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in R2 Women's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 on August 30, stood second in the qualifying stage, finishing with a score of 1176 to make it to the final. Sweden's Anna Normann set a world record for qualifying stage with a score of 1177 and qualified for the final with the best score of the day.
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China's Zhang Cuiping, the 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medallist, took third position with a score of 1171 while Slovakia's Veronika Vadovicova, the Rio 2016 silver medallist, too made it to the eight-shooter final, placed fifth in the qualifying round with a score of 1163.
Avani, the 19-year-old from Jaipur, Rajasthan who is hoping to win her second medal in Tokyo after claiming gold in 10m air rifle SH1, had finished fourth in the Women`s 50m Rifle 3 position SH1 in the 2019 World Championship in Sydney.
On Friday, she shot 388 in kneeling, 393 in prone and 395 in standing in the qualifying stage. Anna Normann shot a brilliant 397 each in kneeling and prone but could manage only 383 in the standing position. Cuipeng had a series of 388, 395 and 388.
(with Agency inputs)