At ISSF World Cup in Munich last year, Apurvi Chandela was top of the pile with a lead of 1.1 points in the 10m Air Rifle Women’s event finals. But then, disaster came calling. She scored a poor 5.9 to go out of the competition with just one shot. She finished fourth in the competition and failed to grab a medal. On Saturday, the 26-year-old got past her demons to win a World Cup gold at Dr. Karni Singh Stadium in New Delhi.
“In Munich last year, it was a freak shot… it wasn’t a malfunction. It was my error. But I am glad, I was able to move past that because such things can play in your mind. I think I beat myself in that way today,” the Jaipur-born shooter told reporters after the event.
Chandela’s recent shooting career has been marked with struggles in the final. Her last gold in a major competition came at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. After giving a tough competition to compatriot Mehuli Ghosh for gold at Gold Coast 2018,, Chandela eventually finished third, missing out on the yellow metal once again.
During the last series of two shots in the final on Saturday, Chandela had a lead of 1.1 points over China’s Zhao Ruozhu. The commentator announced: “As we know in the shooting ring, things can dramatically change.” But there was no freak accident from Apurvi this time. She shot a 10.8 and a 10.6, respectively to clinch the gold.
On being questioned what worked this time in the nervy moments, Chandela said that it was all about the mental state during the competition. “I worked hard on the finals in the past as well. But it did not work. Perhaps, it goes down to the mental state on that particular day. I am glad today was my day,” she said.
On being questioned about her struggles in the finals, she added: “Since the last one month, I have been working really hard, especially on the Finals. In January, I went abroad for Open competition and won a gold. I built confidence from there. It helped me a lot today.”
So what has changed for Chandela in the run-up to the World Cup? The shooter feels she has learnt to handle the pressure better. Plus, a change in technique is perhaps working in her favour.
“Everyone has their own technique. I used to take less time between shoots earlier. I take a little longer now between shoots, to settle down, to breathe,” she said.
The shooter added that meditation and visual exercises while preparing for the tournament, too helped her in improving concentration levels.
Chandela also credited the massive support from the crowd for cheering her throughout the final. “Crowd motivated me a lot today. I could hear them chanting ‘India, India’. That pumped me up today,” she said.