CHENNAI: Elavenil Valarivan had been threatening to challenge the world order. Having joined the senior ranks this year after multiple gold medals at the junior circuit, her consistent performances are evidence.
Late on Wednesday, the Ahmedabad-based youngster won an emphatic 10m air rifle gold at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Rio. She beat elite shooters, including senior compatriots Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela.
This was the 20-year-old’s first medal at the senior level. “The feeling is yet to sink in. This win is special as it is my first senior World Cup medal, that too gold,” Elavenil, born in Tamil Nadu, told this daily from Rio.
It was certainly a special performance. In the eight-woman final, Elavenil’s scores were all over 10, barring the last shot. At a stage where even seasoned shooters tend to falter, she displayed maturity beyond her years to finish with 251.7, ahead of Great Britain’s Seonaid Mcintosh and Chinese Taipei’s Ying-Shin Lin. This was also India’s third gold in four World Cups in the women’s 10m air rifle this year. It should be noted that India has already secured a maximum of two Olympic quotas in the category.
Elavenil is a trainee of Gagan Narang Sports Foundation’s Project LEAP. Coach Neha Chavan, a former shooter, explained what was going through her mind during the demanding final. “She had done all the good work to build a healthy gap going into the final shot. She said that her pulse was racing and she just wanted to get over the line. She’s young and that was part of the learning process for her.”
Neha said that Elavenil’s narrow miss in the Munich World Cup earlier this year — she missed the podium by a 0.1 margin — had only increased her self-belief. What followed was a silver in the World Military Games, with a qualification record being the icing on the cake. Just a few weeks later, the Narang mentee stood atop the podium in Suhl (Germany) at the Junior WC.
“The first two World Cups were alright. We were in experimentation mode then. We were trying out new equipment. The goal then was to do well with elite shooters and gain experience.”
Neha feels that meticulous planning has given Elavenil wings. “We try to understand her well. We ensure that she gets the timely break. We don’t want to push her unnecessarily. That has helped her stay fresh and motivated for competitions.”
Elavenil, who is fond of clicking pictures and driving, is ambitious and does not sit on her laurels, according to Neha. “Once you’re in the arena, especially in the finals, you cannot teach anyone. So you have to laud her for that. She has that hunger to win every competition she takes part in. That is something that makes her stand out from the rest,” remarked Neha.