Fuel the Olympic Fire: How World no.1 Elavenil Valarivan trains and what is her cheat meal? 

The shooter believes that mental training is the most important aspect of shooting
By Soham Mukherjee

Elavenil Valarivan is the World No.1 in women's 10m air rifle and is one of India's medal hopefuls at the upcoming Tokyo 2020, which is set to start on July 23, 2021.

She is currently in Croatia with the Indian squad which is undergoing training and competition before the Olympics. Shooting in the MQS (Minimum Qualification Score) section of the European championship, she scored 630.4 to finish first ahead of Iranians Armina Sadeghian (629.8) and Fatemeh Karamzadeh (628.7).

The taste of success was sweeter as she did not have a good outing in the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, where she finished 12th with a score of 626.7 in the qualifiers and failed to reach the final. However, she won the gold medal in the mixed team event with Divyansh Singh Panwar.

Previously in Changwon World Cup in 2018 she had won silver, whereas a year later in Putian she bettered her record and won gold with a final round score of 250.8.

Valarivan also boasts of a stellar record in the Junior World Cups, where she has bagged three gold medals.

She is one of India's biggest hopes at Tokyo 2020 for a podium finish. Let us have a look at her diet and training regimen to understand the secret behind her success.

Divyansh Singh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan 
Picture by SAI Media

How does Elavenil Valarivan train?

She is an early-riser and begins her day at six in the morning. After getting ready, she starts with her morning exercise before having breakfast. Within 8:30 she is in the shooting range.

"I train for four hours. If the session is too intense I fire 80-100 shots but in national camps, I would go generally for 120-130," she revealed.

In the evening it is usually gym work where she focuses on cardio and strength conditioning to increase her muscle endurance.

"We have to stand still for hours and that leads to injuries in a very short span of time. So to prevent that even though we have a shooting kit the muscles get stiff as you are not moving. Hence you should have enough strength in your muscles that would help you stand still for long periods of time," she explained.

However, she feels that mental training is the most important aspect of shooting.

"It is a stretch where you are concentrating on just one target. If you do it for three-four days then you will not be able to even stand on the third day. Mental training helps me to be on the edge and give my best. It also improves the breathing pattern and helps remain focused for long periods of time. In training, if you can focus for three hours then only in an actual match you can keep that intensity for half that time," she revealed.

She is supported by Guns for Glory and has been working with a mental trainer since 2017 which she feels has improved her performance by a couple of notches.

"If you are mentally strong then you can push through any barrier. Shooting needs a lot of focus and you have to keep it up till the last shot," she stated.

Elavenil Valarivan 
Picture by ISSF

What does Elavenil Valarivan eat?

Valarivan prefers to have non-vegetarian meals. However, she tries to stay away from gluten or lactose.

At breakfast, if she is in South India it would be usually dosa, upma or idli. In lunch there must be a non-veg dish.

"Anything non-veg would do. Chicken, fish, and eggs in any form," she laughs. But for dinner, she tries to keep it simple by having rice, dal and veggies.

"I try to have my dinner early at around 8 and by 10 I am off to bed."

Valarivan's favourite cheat food is chicken biriyani and if she is in Chennai, then she makes it a point to have a plate of it.