One of the countries where shooting Para sport has seen a great development in recent years, India reached another important milestone in March hosting its first National Championships.
As many as 217 shooters from 19 states across the country participated in the competition supported by the National Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) from 1 to 5 March.
The National Shooting Para Sport Championships was held at the Manav Rachna Shooting Academy in Faridabad, near capital New Delhi.
Manish Narwal and Avani Lekhara, both of whom have secured quotas for India at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, displayed dominant show and emerged victorious in multiple events including the P1 10m air pistol men SH1 and R2 10m air rifle women SH1.
Among other top names who were in action were Singhraj Singhraj and Akash Akash, who took the bronze medal in mixed team 50m pistol SH1 event along with Narwal at the Sydney 2019 World Championships; and Osijek 2019 World Cup medallists Rahul Jakhar and Mahavir Swaroop Unhalkar.
In a thrilling contest, Narwal defeated Singhraj for the gold in 10m air pistol men SH1 with both the shooters getting 577, including 18 inner 10s.
The same result followed in the 50m air pistol mixed SH1 with Narwal and Singhraj taking the 1-2 positions with scores of 545 and 542, respectively. Jakhar was the bronze medallist with 524.
Overall Narwal took three gold medals to his name in the P1 men’s 10m air pistol SH1 (junior and senior) and the P4 mixed 50m pistol SH1.
“It was great experience to play a match after so long gap. I was eagerly waiting for this opportunity,” Narwal said.
Eight medals to Lekhara
One of the most promising names in the sport, world junior record holder Avani Lekhara left Manav Rachna shooting range with eight medals.
“It was a very nice experience to perform after almost one year. I won six gold and two silver. I took it as a trial match for the upcoming World Cup and gave my best,” she said.
Both Lekhara and Narwal are set to join other 11 Indian shooters to compete at the season’s opening World Shooting Para Sport World Cup in Al Ain, UAE from 15 to 25 March.
PCI President and Paralympic medallist Deepa Malik attended the opening day of the National Championships. The inaugural event also counted with another famous guest, India’s two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar, who fired the inaugural shot at the 10-metre shooting range.
“We are delighted that the Nationals were held successfully. This is a boost to shooting Para sport in the country. India have so far attained six quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and I am hopeful for 2-3 more,” National Chief Coach J.P Nautiyal said.