Avani Lekhara – Goal in Tokyo, heading for Paris

Avani Lekhara looks exhausted when her father Praveen hands her the phone.

“My exams started on the 17th (September). It was difficult. Imagine having only one day to prepare everything!

Avani has always been the quintessential topper in school – dedicated and hardworking. It’s almost as if it had been magically made for all the leaderboards.

Now, well into the fourth semester of an undergraduate law degree, she admits that she finds things a little difficult. However, she seems to have found an unrecognized aid to shoot.

“The shooting allowed me to be more focused. When I study now, I am able to concentrate more. But generally I don’t have a lot of time; only 1 to 2 hours of study when I train, ”she says.

READ: Shooter Avani Lekhara becomes first Indian woman to win gold

Life hasn’t been the same for the 19-year-old from Jaipur since the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. As former Olympian Joydeep Karmakar said, Avani’s gold medal (with a rifle in compressed air 10m standing) is definitely a little redemption after the performance of the shooting team at the Olympics. Before India even finished celebrating Avani’s gold – she is the country’s first woman to win the yellow metal at the Paralympic Games – she brought more joy to more than a billion people in winning bronze in the 50m rifle 3 positions.

“It has been an incredible experience. Everyone from all over India shares so much love. When I came back here, my relatives came to welcome me. There was a lot of dancing, photos and autographs (Laughs). It’s surreal, ”says the world n ° 2 in the 10m standing woman’s air rifle (R2).

Avani, who took a well-deserved break from all filming until September 26, is also struggling to balance her studies and newfound fame, especially with all the event invitations and media attention she receives. But it’s a “welcome change”, a change that she would like to maintain and that she prefers not to complain about.

“I attend many functions. This time around, we also got a lot of media coverage. It feels good to have people watching the Paralympic Games. It’s a welcome change. We have more major tournaments coming up next year. It will be so good to have continued support even then, ”she said.

Complete list of Indian medalists at the 2020 Paralympic Games

Avani is especially grateful to her personal trainer Suma Shirur. A mere mention of the name of the ancient Indian rifle shooter excites him. “Oh! She (Suma) was jumping (when I won). She was also the first to come and hug me. I asked her before the competition, ‘What if I don’t win a medal?’. She said, “I’ll be there for you no matter what. Go ahead and give your best.” We have a really good connection. She’s like the best coach we can have! ”Says Avani.

The shooter is also in the running for the prestigious Arjuna Award after the Indian Paralympic Committee (IPC) recommended her name for the upcoming National Sports Awards.

Rich haul: Shooter Avani Lekhara shows off the two medals – gold and bronze – she won at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, upon arrival in Jaipur. – PTI

“I am very happy. Every athlete dreams of being nominated for Arjuna. It is for all the things I have done in the last month.

READ: Fitness, self-confidence, self-confidence – Jhajharia’s success mantra

Avani has already made history. So what’s next? “I achieved my dream goal. Now is the time to dream bigger. It (Tokyo Paralympics) is over. Now everything is back to zero. The next Paralympic cycle is restarting soon. I will work harder and improve myself. We will soon have the Asian Para Games and the Quota competitions for Paris 2024. We will also have the world championships. I hope I can make India proud again.

Avani understands that she is already an inspiration to many people across the country. She signs off with a message for every woman who wants to succeed someday.

“There have been a lot of firsts for me in these Paralympic Games. First gold medal for a woman. First female flag bearer. First woman with two medals. And it was amazing … For all women, you are stronger than you think. There is no limit to what you can achieve. Don’t do anything to please someone else. Just put all of your energy behind what you really love to do.

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