Country's top Para shooters Manish Narwal and Avani Lekhara opened the 2021 season with several gold medals as the first ever National Shooting Championships concluded at the Manav Rachna Shooting ranges in Faridabad.
Narwal and 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 their pet events - P1 10m air pistol men SH1 and R2 10m air rifle women SH1.
Among other top names who were in action last week were Singhraj (Haryana) and Akash Akash (Uttar Pradesh), who took the bronze medal in mixed team 50m pistol SH1 event along with Narwal at the Sydney 2019 World Shooting Para Sport Championships; Osijek 2019 World Cup medallists Rahul Jakhar (Haryana) and Mahavir Swaroop Unhalkar (Maharashtra) etc.
In a thrilling contest, Narwal representing Haryana 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.
Para shooters hail the Nationals
"It was a great experience to play a match after such a long gap. I was eagerly waiting for this opportunity," said Narwal.
Meanwhile, world junior record holder Lekhara representing Rajasthan left the Manav Rachna shooting range with eight medals including gold in R2 10m air rifle standing women SH1 (senior and junior) and R8 50m air rifle 3 position women SH1 (senior and junior) etc.
"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.
Promising juniors Rubina Francis (Madhya Pradesh) and Rudrash Khandelwal (Rajasthan) were also among the medallists at the Championships.
As many as 217 para shooters from 19 states participated in the first-ever National Championships organised by Sports Technical Committee, Para Shooting under the aegis of the PCI last week.
Delighted with the hosting of the first ever National Championships, National Chief coach J.P Nautiyal told the Paralympic Committee of India: "It was great to see the pride in the eyes of para shooters, that first time. We are delighted that the Nationals were held successfully, this is for the players only. "
"This is a boost to Shooting Parasport in the country. India have so far attained six quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and I am hopeful for 2-3 more."
Narwal will be joined by 12 other shooters, including Lekhara, Singhraj, Jakhar, Swaroop and Rubina etc — all of whom are in National Camp now — to compete at the season's opening World Shooting Para Sport World Cup scheduled to be held in Al Ain, UAE from March 15 to 25, 2021.