Elavenil Valarivan steals the show in women’s air rifle

As it proved, there was no dearth of fireworks, and the 18-year-old Elavenil, who trains at the Gun For Glory Academy in Pune, was a notch above the rest.

Mehuli Ghosh and Elavenil Valarivan who put up a world class performance in air rifle in the National selection trials in Delhi on Tuesday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar emphasised his all-round ability as he won the centre fire pistol gold with a score of 583, a point ahead of Olympian Gurpreet Singh and Mahender Singh, in the 18th Kumar Surendra Singh shooting championship at the Dr Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Tuesday.

The non-Olympic event may have ceased to hold the attention of the Indian fans for long after the heroics of Jaspal Rana from the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994.

There was a valid reason, with emerging talent being classy in various events. Elavenil Valarivan provided one such glittering example as she hogged all the attention this day, with her world-class performance in women’s air rifle.

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It was only the fifth set of national selection trials for the Asian Games and World Championship, but with the cream of Indian shooting lined up, except for Apurvi Chandela, there was a lot of expectation of the fireworks. Especially so, in the light of Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mehuli Ghosh, shooting both the women’s and junior gold on Monday.

As it proved, there was no dearth of fireworks, and the 18-year-old Elavenil, who trains at the Gun For Glory Academy in Pune, was a notch above the rest.

Having shot the qualification topping score of 632.2 a few days earlier than the rest, as the national junior team had to prepare for the European circuit, Elavenil had all the energy to shoot 253.0 in topping the women’s event, 1.3 points ahead of Mehuli, and then winning the junior event with 252.3, this time 1.2 points ahead of Mehuli Ghosh.

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It may be noted that the world record for women’s air rifle final stands at 252.4 in the name of Zhao Ruozhu of China, who shot the score in the World Cup in Changwon in April.

After a pep talk from coach Anton Belak on Monday, when she hurried her shots, Elavenil looked to have grasped the finer point and took her time to work on each shot and deliver a consistently top class fare. In comparison, Mehuli was troubled with a couple of 9s that weighed her chances down, in an otherwise gripping performance.

The two completely overshadowed Manini Kaushik, who took the third place, apart from Anjum Moudgil, Meghana Sajjanar, Olympian Ayonika Paul, Lajja Gauwami and Aayushi Gupta, who finished in that order.

In the junior section, Shreya Agrawal managed to pull to the third place, ahead of Manini Kaushik, Shailaja Patel, Ayushi Podder, Nupur Patil and Gargi Sirsat. The bespectacled Yana Rathore took the honours in the youth section, 1.1 points ahead of Zeena Khitta.

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The results:

Men:

25m centre fire pistol: 1. Vijay Kumar 583; 2. Gurpreet Singh 582 (20x); 3. Mahender Singh 582(18x).

Trial-5:

10m air rifle:

Women: 1. Elavenil Valarivan 253.0 (632.2); 2. Mehuli Ghosh 251.7 (629.3); 3. Manini Kaushik 230.9 (629.1).

Junior women: 1. Elavenil Valarivan 252.3 (632.2); 2. Mehuli Ghosh 251.1 (629.3); 3. Shreya Agrawal 229.7 (621.5).

Youth women: 1. Yana Rathore 249.6 (616.4); 2. Zeena Khitta 248.5 (619.0); 3. Nischal Singh 225.1 (621.3).