India's Singhraj Adhana won the bronze medal in the men's 10m air pistol SH1 event at the Tokyo Paralympics on Tuesday. Manish Narwal, the other Indian entrant in the final, finished seventh.
As a pistol is held with one hand, the SH1 pistol event consists of athletes with an impairment affecting one arm and/or the legs.
Singhraj's bronze takes India's medals tally at the Tokyo Paralympics to eight medals, by far their best performance at a single edition of the Games. Those eight medals consist of two gold, four silver medals and two bronze medals. Singhraj's medal is India's second in shooting at these Games, after teenager Avani Lekhara won gold in the women's 10m air rifle standing SH1 event on Monday, becoming the first Indian woman to win gold at the Paralympics.
With Covid-19 not allowing him to go to the shooting range to train, Singhraj found a solution by building a range at his house.
"As I was not able to train, I started thinking that my dream of winning a medal is over. That's when my coaches suggested why not try building a range at home," he said in a media interaction organised by the Paralympic Committee of India.
"I was getting desperate and was not able to sleep at all because of the absence of training. So I approached my family with the idea and they were taken aback at first as it involved lakhs of rupees.
"My mother only asked me to ensure that we are able to feed ourselves later on if something went wrong. But thanks to my family and coaches' support, the green signal and help from the Paralympic Committee of India and NRAI, we succeeded in my mission and the range was soon up and running," he added.
Singhraj also said that he designed the range himself as he wanted it to closely mirror the ranges at the international level.
"I drew the layout overnight and my coaches told me that if at all we are building a range then it has to be of international level as it would then help me for not just Tokyo but also Paris Games. That's why I am here today."
Singhraj shot a total of 216.8 in the final and was the last to be eliminated, leaving China's Yang Chao and Huang Xing to fight it out for the gold medal. Yang took the gold by just 0.4 points, ending with a Paralympic record of 237.9, while Huang took silver with 237.5.
Narwal had topped the qualification round with a score of 575-21x (x indicates an inner 10) but began somewhat poorly in the final, shooting an 8.7 along with three shots in the 9s and one in the 10s in his first five shots. He was left playing catch up since and was second to be eliminated.
Singhraj, on the other hand, began much better and was in third place heading into the elimination stage. He briefly fell out of medal contention with an 8.7 in the third stage of elimination. However, an 8.7 shot by China's Lou Xiaolong, the Indian's closest competitor, a few shots later allowed the Indian to move back into the top three. Once his bronze medal was confirmed, Singhraj shot two 10s in his final two shots.
Singhraj had finished sixth in qualification with 569-18x, while Deepender Singh finished 10th with 560-9x, missing out on the eight-shooter final.
Earlier on Tuesday, India's Rubina Francis finished seventh in the women's 10m air pistol final after finishing seventh in the qualification round as well.
Hailing from Bahadurgarh, Haryana, Singhraj suffers from a limb impairment. Coming from a low-income background, Singhraj found it difficult to make ends meet and continue shooting. "My wife sold her jewellery to support my shooting dream," he told India's Press Information Bureau (PIB) in an interview leading up to the Tokyo Paralympics.
Singhraj made his international debut in 2018, winning the 10m air pistol SH1 silver at the World Shooting Para Sport World Cup held in Al Ain, Dubai. He won silver again at the event the following year, before winning gold there earlier this year. Singhraj also won bronze in the mixed 50m pistol SH1 event at the 2018 Asian Para Games. In addition to his shooting career, Singhraj has served as the chairman of Sainak Public School in Faridabad, near Delhi.