CWG Heartbreak to WC Gold, This 18-Yr-Old Shooter Has Seen It All

CWG Heartbreak to WC Gold, This 18-Yr-Old Shooter Has Seen It All

Sports

Life rarely gives one second chances, and it’s even rarer to see those chances yield gold. Elavenil Valarivan is one of those few sportspersons who make the second chance count. The 18-year-old missed out on the Commonwealth Games held in April this year at Gold Coast, Australia, after she was placed fourth in the national trials.

However, the fourth spot secured her a ticket to Sydney, Australia, where she represented India in the International Shooting Sports Federation Junior World Cup in late March. Valarivan not only won the gold in 10M Air Rifle Shooting, but also clinched a world record during the qualification round for both junior and senior women shooters.

Started Shooting With a Borrowed Rifle

Valarivan’s journey in the world of shooting stared at the age of 13. She recalls herself being a restless kid who was into athletics. “My dad's student’s daughter was a shooter and one of the state’s best players. She asked me to take up shooting and even gave me a spare rifle which I used for some months. Soon as my performance improved I made it to the District Level Sports School Scheme,” she said.

Valarivan at the Junior World Cup in Sydney.
Valarivan at the Junior World Cup in Sydney.
(Photo: Rahul Nair/The Quint)
In no time she climbed to the top ranks in the state and made it to the national side last year. She represented India at the 27th Shooting Hopes in Czechoslovakia in May, 2017, and Junior World Championship, in Germany later that year. 

However, a few bad exercises in the gym resulted in a knee injury towards the end of 2017.

“Just around my exams I started going to the gym, but I did some wrong exercises which led to my knee injury. Later, after my exams, when I started training again, I couldn’t even stand for five minutes. Both the knees took a terrible toll,” she said.

Failure at CWG Trials But a Silver Lining

Valarivan said the knee injury hindered her performance during the national trials where she was placed fourth and missed out on the 2018 CWG, adding that “I came fourth in the trials. I was not upset, but it pinched me, that I could have gone for it but due to some mistakes I couldn’t make it. But I had the confidence that I’ll make it to the next CWG team”.

While a journey to Gold Coast wasn’t on the cards, Valarivan’s fourth-place finish in the 10M Air Rifle event was enough to secure her a spot in the ISSF Junior World Cup held in Sydney this March.

However, her injury returned while she was travelling to Australia. “When I was travelling to Sydney from Kuala Lumpur, we had some issues with our ticket and visa. We were stranded at the airport for more than a day. That aggravated my pain again. So basically, I came to zero when I came to Sydney for the world cup.”

Standing Tall on Injured Knees

But that didn’t stop her from making history as she not only won the gold in 10M Air Rifle Shooting but also secured a world record for both junior and senior women’s division during the qualification round.

The previous world record for junior women was held by India’s Mehuli Ghosh at 629.1 and the record for senior women was held by China’s Sun Ting at 629.5; Valarivan scored 631.4 at the Sydney World Cup.
Valarivan after winning gold at in the 10M Air Rifle Shooting event.
Valarivan after winning gold at in the 10M Air Rifle Shooting event.
(Photo: Rahul Nair/The Quint)
On the match day, I was quite confident as I was training well. The leg pain did not hinder my performance. I was happy when my coach told me that I secured the world record. In fact, I did not even check my score. I had prepared very well for the finals. So, I am happy that I did my best.
Elavenil Valarivan

Focus on 2020 Tokyo Games

Valarivan is part of ‘Project Leap’, an initiative started Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation. In fact, she extensively trains with the Olympian and is prepping for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Valarivan is part of ‘Project Leap’, an initiative started Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation.
Valarivan is part of ‘Project Leap’, an initiative started Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

She said, “He (Narang) has always been a great motivator for me and always supported me. Before my selection for the world cup, I was with him for a week. And the changes he brought at that time, was a turning point for me. I completely went into a qualitative training zone. He always motivates me to do better and better. But he never congratulated me; that is the motivation for me to do better and better”.

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