Rio de Janeiro: Talking to Apurvi Chandela can put anyone’s communication skills to its sternest test. The quiet 23-year-old Indian shooter has only smiles to answer all the questions thrown at her.
The Games Village might be a buzzing place, but the girl from Jaipur likes to hang out alone, be it while buying the official Rio memorabilia from the Village shop or singing the National Anthem during the flag hoisting ceremony.
Apurvi doesn’t like predicting about her chances at the mega event. Rather, she says she will talk about it after the event.
“Let the focus be on the right things,” she says.
Apurvi will hope to do that in a few hours’ time when she begins her Rio campaign in the 10m air rifle qualification. It’s a moment she has been preparing for the better part of her growing up life.
“This is going to be the first event and there will be a little pressure on me, surely,” Apurvi says. “But my earlier experience of shooting here in Rio will certainly help me during the competition.”
Winning medals has become a habit for the young shooter. In many ways, she is at a place now where Abhinav Bindra was before the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Not only do the two share their events, but also the quality of being reticence. Both talk less, are circumspect and keep people guessing. She also acknowledges that she developed interest in the game only after watching Bindra winning the historic gold medal in the 2008 Games.
Apurvi qualified for the Rio Olympics after she won bronze in the ISSF World Cup in Changwon, Korea, in April 2015. However, she did not stop there. The Sociology student from Delhi University went on to clinch the silver medal in the ISSF World Cup Finals held in Munich later that year. And, she also went on to break the world record after her Olympics qualification in the women’s 10m air rifle event at the Swedish Cup Grand Prix.
Apurvi, along with many other shooters, landed in Rio on July 25. The early arrival would have helped her acclimatise to the conditions as well as taken her confidence level a notch higher.
With a doubt, Apurvi is India’s best medal hope among women shooters in Rio. Much like Bindra has been among the men over all these years.