Published: 30th August 2019
The Elavenil Valarivan interview: How Gagan Narang inspired this shooter to become a world champion
20-year-old Cuddalore-born Elavenil won the gold in women's 10-metre air rifle at the shooting world cup in Rio. This is her inspiring story
After winning the country's first gold at the ISSF World Cup, Elavenil Valarivan was desperately in need of some sleep. Unfortunately, this 20-year-old shooter's phone kept buzzing continuously with praises from all over the world. But she has no complaints. "Sleep can wait," she says. After all, not everyone gets to become a world champion every day.
Born in Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, Elavenil grew up in Ahmedabad, where her parents work as academics. That is where she was introduced to shooting. "I tried it out initially for fun," she says. "The daughter of a student of my father's was into shooting. Once, we had gone to their house for a party where she asked me to give it a shot. I tried it out and I loved it. I was 14 back then."
Later, she joined the shooting academy Gun for Glory in Ahmedabad, run by the Olympic medal-winning shooter Gagan Narang. "It was amazing to have an olympian train me. Gagan sir is my biggest inspiration in life," says Elavenil. "Apart from being a good coach, he is a good person too. He always stood by me. At the same time, he made sure that I had so much fun during training," she says. Another major inspiration for her is Abhinav Bindra, the only Indian to bag an Olympic gold medal in shooting.
Now, a conversation with a world champion is incomplete if you do not ask them if they expected the medal. To this, Elavenil says, "I wanted to take a medal home. But my major goal was to improve my shooting." Her parents are also excited about their daughter's big win. Unfortunately, they'll have to wait for a few more days to meet their daughter, who is returning to India from Rio on September 3.
Elavenil is a III year BA English Literature student at Bhavan's Sheth R A College of Science, Commerce & Arts, Ahmedabad. Even though she spends most of her time training in Chennai, she makes it a point to go back to Ahmedabad to write her exams. "Right after I'm done with my bachelor's, I want to do my MA," she says.
On her Twitter handle, Elavenil calls herself a dog lover. But she never had a dog of her own. "My parents never let me get a dog. But my uncle who lives in Chennai has four dogs. So, during my free time, I often go to his house to play with them," she says. Otherwise, she dedicates her spare hours to her friends. Or else, this series junkie loves snuggling under a blanket and catching up on all the Netflix series that she missed.