Para Shooting World Cup: Athlete-turned-shooter Mona Agarwal claims gold in 10m air rifle event, aims more glory

Para athlete Mona got her stardom in shooting as the 37-year-old on Saturday opened India’s account at the Para Shooting World Cup here with a gold in women’s 10m air rifle (SH1) event.

Published : Mar 09, 2024 20:51 IST , New Delhi - 4 MINS READ

Representative Photo: 10m Air Rifle
Representative Photo: 10m Air Rifle | Photo Credit: AFP

Representative Photo: 10m Air Rifle | Photo Credit: AFP

Mona Agarwal always wanted to be a top-notch para athlete. She tried her hand at shot put, javelin, discus throw and even powerlifting, excelling in each one of them.

But the the polio-stricken para athlete finally got her stardom in shooting as the 37-year-old on Saturday opened India’s account at the Para Shooting World Cup here with a gold in women’s 10m air rifle (SH1) event.

She even covered the length and breath of the country to scout for girls “motivated” enough to play para volleyball.

But her disability finally came in the way of her athletics career as she couldn’t go beyond a point. Recognising the limitations, Mona decided that she had to quit athletics and look for a sport that was more suited to her body.

On Saturday, she took a first major step towards achieving the ultimate goal of winning a Paraympic medal by securing a 2024 Paris Games berth at the Karni Singh ranges.

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The shooter from Jaipur shot 618 in the qualification round to enter the eight-shooter final placed seventh. Her resoluteness came to the fore in the final as she beat back the challenge of China’s Zhang Cuiping to bag the gold with a score of 250.7.

“Before I took up shooting, I was a state-level para athlete. I have won gold medals in shot put, discus and javelin. I also did powerlifting and won three gold medals. But my body didn’t support (lifting weights).

“I am also the founder of the national para volleyball girls team. I travelled across India to motivate girls to take up the sport and we formed a team as well,” Mona told PTI with a lot of pride in her voice.

But with disability taking a toll, she decided to look for a sport which was easy on her body.

“I was basically researching a sport which was perfect for my body. I found shooting suited me perfectly. It would also give me a chance at individual glory, unlike volleyball.” She said the gold on Saturday had given her the exhilarating feeling she had never experienced before.

“I am feeling on top of the world. This is just my fourth international shooting competition, and I suppose my efforts have brought me to this stage. I feel proud that I have achieved the feat in my home country. I can’t explain my happiness,” said Mona.

Mona, who took up the sport in December 2021, has become the ninth Indian shooter to secure a berth in the Paris Paralympics.

She says she has overcome extreme challenges to reach this stage and now wants to be a role model for her kids.

“I am married with two children. My husband used to play wheelchair basketball. Two years back he also suffered a brain injury. My in-laws take care of him while I concentrate on my shooting,” says Mona, who was stricken by polio when she was just nine months old.

“I believe I had a reaction to the polio drops when I was a few months old. After that I couldn’t walk. During the 1980 and 90s, there was a surge in polio cases. Don’t know whether I contacted the virus from the air or what,” she said.

“The reason why I am so mentally stable despite going through all this is because I know both of us are disabled. And, we have to accept that parents and in-laws will not be with us forever.

“So, I want to ensure I give my kids a good future... that they don’t have to look at anyone else for motivation. I want to be an example of motivation for them,” says the rifle shooter.

On Sunday, Mona will aim for a grand double in the R10 mixed event.

“And then I have the 50m rifle 3-positions and 50m rifle prone events in which I am competing internationally for the first time. So, definitely, I will fight for more medals... this is the biggest motivation now.”

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