Elavenil Valarivan was just 13 when she held the gun for the first time in 2012. Initially, it was just for fun. In March this year, the 18-year-old shooter broke records at ISSF Junior World Cup, held in Sydney.
With a phenomenal 631.4 in the 10m air rifle qualification, she created a new Junior World record. Her Coach Neha Chavan shares that the previous junior qualification record was 629.1, created by India’s Mehuli Ghosh in Mexico.
The high point of her success is that Elavenil has broken Junior Men’s 10m Air Rifle record, which stands at 624.7 by China’s Changhong Zhang and Senior Women’s record which stands at 629.5 by China’s Sun Ting.
Born in Cuddalore, Elavenil was 3-years-old when she moved with her family to Ahmedabad. Her parents, both Ph.D. scholars, have always been very encouraging of whatever she chose to do, Elavenil shares.
With keen interests in sports, Elavenil was previously a long distance athlete and a sprinter. She shares that she was introduced to shooting by her cousin. “I initially took it up for fun and only began serious, full-time practice in July 2014,” she says.
In 2015, the year she took her tenth boards, Elavenil had to balance both studies and practices, making sure one did not affect the other. Her coach Neha Chavan says that Elavenil used to come in for practice very early in the morning, before her classes began, and stayed back after school for more practice sessions. “She stayed about 25 kms away from the training centre so she woke up at 4.30 am every day to be here for practice around 5.30 am. In the evenings, she’d train until 8.30 pm every day,” says Neha.
In 2016, Elavenil made it to the Indian Selection Squad, shooting her first perfect set. She was one among the top 8 finalists in the senior category.
Elavenil’s big break, however, came last year when she was selected for Project Leap, an initiative of Gagan Narang’s Gun for Glory Academy where she currently trains. The special training camp had international trainers, with sessions on Technique, Competition Preparation, etc. and was held in Pune and Chennai.
Elavenil went on to clinch Gold at the National Shooting Championship that was held in Kerala last year. Shortly before her phenomenal win in Sydney this year, Elavenil won individual Bronze and team Gold at World University Shooting Sport Championship that was held in Malaysia.
The youngster, who looks up to Gagan Narang, the first Indian who qualified for the London Olympics, says that her dream is to win gold at the 2020 Olympics.