World Champion Shooter and World Record Holder
In Conversation with Brahmaditya Singh, Head – Sports at Shiv Nadar School, Noida
Apurvi Chandela thrives on pressure. It sharpens her mind and helps her stay supremely focused on her technique, her sequence and her process. Committed and driven, this calm, level headed young sportsperson has won outstanding accolades for her country as an air rifle shooter. In Conversations, the Shiv Nadar Foundation event on Facebook, Apurvi inspired a whole generation of young people from the Shiv Nadar Foundation’s institutions, as well many other listeners with her incredible journey and her positive outlook on life.
Born into a sporty family, everyone on her maternal side played basketball, some, including her mother at the national and international level. She always thought she would follow in their footsteps, but in 2008, Abhinav Bindra won the shooting gold at the Olympics. Young Apurvi suddenly saw her path illuminated. From her first brilliant shot at a local shooting range to her gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and all the way to a fabulous 2019 where she won golds at the ISSF World Cup in Delhi and the World Cup in Munich, she has been on fire. Despite setbacks including injuries, not being able to place at the Rio Olympics and more, she has bounced back.
The Delhi victory was the sweetest as it was to a home crowd that was cheering for her right through. The support from her family too has been steadfast. Her mother accompanies her to most of her competitions and helps with training, her uncle has a shooting range in his basement and her family members show up at many of her competitions to show their love and support. Because she is constantly travelling for her events, she treasures the time she can spend with her family and her beloved dogs during this lockdown.
Now in training for the Japan Olympics, she is unfazed by the postponement of the event although she’s been looking forward to it for so long. She quotes her mentor Abhinav Bindra who said about the Olympics, ‘It’s not every four years, its every day.’ She is using this hiatus to train and get fitter, both mentally and physically, setting her targets even higher. She can do this so confidently because she has a support structure which takes care of all her needs, be they training, infrastructure or mental coaching – consisting of her coaches, (both her personal coach as well as the national coach), her physiotherapist who has brought her back from the brink after injuries, and her nutritionist. Together, they chalk out a strategy before she enters the cycle of competition so optimise her performance. ‘It’s a whole rounded system of everyone’s effort combined together,’ she says.
Much about the sport has changed since Apurvi started competing. Then, there were about 500 kids coming in for the finals, but now they number more than 3000-4000. The infrastructure is better, there are academies that guide youngsters so they get on the right road to success. ‘Tough competition domestically has made a difference to our performance abroad. It’s a very good time for shooting.’ At the national camp there is a young, vibrant energy from the younger lot which motivates Apurvi and her peers to push themselves harder. Together they form one of the best teams in the world. Even during the pandemic they stay connected, training together online.
For aspiring shooters from the Shiv Nadar Foundation family, Apurvi says, ‘Many schools have good facilities, and if not, there are good local shooting ranges where you can get a second hand rifle at a reasonable cost.’ She never thought it was possible to make sports her career, but she has. Studying hard also got her good marks in school and then she got into a good college through the sports quota. Now she has a job with ONGC. For these budding sports persons, Apurvi is a spectacular role model. To them, her advice is, ‘Have a goal, an aim, go out there and give your best. The rest will follow. You’ll have to make many sacrifices. Sports comes first and it doesn’t matter what you have to give up – because you’re doing it for the nation.’
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