Among the 524-member contingent India is sending to the Asian Games in Indonesia, the 18-year-old shooting prodigy Elavenil Valarivan is one of India’s Yellow medal hopes. Junior World Cup gold medallist Valarivan made a cut to the women’s air rifle team after claiming the women’s air rifle gold medal in the 28th Meeting of Shooting Hopes junior international championship.
Here’s how the youngster has been steadily emerging as a sporting icon for the nation:
The Ahmedabad-based shooter began her journey in 2013 when her father, scientist Valarivan Rudrapati, took her to the Ahmedabad Military and Rifle Training Club to meet one of his students, she was just 13 back then. Valarivan was born in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, has grown up in Ahmedabad, and trains in academies in Pune and Chennai. Initially, Elavenil trained at the military club. Later, she was selected in the Sports Authority of Gujarat’s training programme.
The last one year was challenging for Elavenil as she is struggling with a knee injury.
On pursuing the sport seriously as a career choice, she said, “Both my parents are into academics and I had no idea about shooting or rifles. In 2013, I met shooter Riya Shah, one of my father’s students, and she told me about rifle shooting. I borrowed her rifle for three months and trained at the club. I used to run 100m and 5 km earlier at the state level and training with a rifle for 2-3-hour sessions sometimes felt like running a marathon,” The Indian Express reported.
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A student of English Literature, Valarivan held her first own rifle in 2016. She first came to limelight when she participated in Indian junior team, winning the gold medal at the Junior World Cup in Sydney in March last year. She won the medal with three scores of 10.5 or more in her last four shots.
- She clinched gold in the women’s 10m Air Rifle event at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney. She became world champion at the ISSF Munich World Cup. And also claimed a silver medal at the Changwon World Cup.
- Last year in November, she topped the selection trials with a world record-equalling score of 252.1. She edged past Rio Olympian Ayonika Paul and Elizabeth Koshie. A month later, Elavenil became the 10m air rifle champion at the senior Nationals in Kerala with a score of 250.6 in the final.
- Valarivan broke the previous record held by fellow Indian shooter Mehuli Ghosh. This was her first participation in the finals. The teen knocked out shooters from Chinese Taipei and China and claimed gold with 249.8 points.
- Valarivan has set a new Qualification World Record with 631.4 points.
- She came 28th in last year’s Junior World Championship in Suhl.
- Valarivan also won a bronze medal in the FISU championship.
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Elavenil trains at Olympic medalist Gagan Narang’s Gun For Glory Academy. Besides her individual podium finish at the season’s first junior ISSF World Cup, Elavenil also combined with Shreya Agrawal and Zeena Khitta to claim the team gold medal.
Expressing his delight about his protegé’s feat and future, Narang, the co-founder of Gagan Narang Sports Foundation said to TOI, “We always knew that she had the potential to become a world beater and her performance today just vindicated our trust on her. I would like to congratulate her for the win and wish her all the best for her future endeavours.”
Shooting will be held at the Jakabaring International Shooting Range, Palembang, Indonesia from 18 to 27 August
Feature Image Credit: Deccan Chronicle