But Apurvi had to wait a day less. On April 30, at 6:32 pm, she tweeted: “World Number 1. Touched a milestone in my shooting career today!!” The elation in her words was palpable.
“I could feel how badly she was waiting for that news, for the 1st of May to come and ISSF to update the list,” Anjum told TimesofIndia.com.
“I could really understand how it feels,” she shared Apurvi’s feelings.
Apurvi finished fourth in the recently concluded World Cup in Beijing, which was the second shooting World Cup of 2019. But her maiden World Cup gold at the Delhi edition in February with a new world record (252.9) ensured that she climbed up a spot to top the world rankings.
In fact, the women’s 10m air rifle rankings had two Indian flags at the top: Apurvi at number one and Anjum as the world number two. Both climbed a place each to achieve their highest world ranking. The 26-year-old Apurvi became the first woman rifler shooter since Anjali Bhagwat in 2002 to be number one.
The career-best ranking is also an icing on the cake for both Apurvi and Anjum, who were the first to book India’s Tokyo Olympics quotas, which they achieved at the World Championships last year in Changwon.
The break and the celebrations, though, are long over, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Apurvi has flown to Germany for the third pistol and rifle World Cup of the year in Munich.
It was insightful to pick Apurvi’s brains before she boarded the flight, and it brought to the fore an athlete from Jaipur who has her feet planted firmly on the ground, while she is at the top of the world.
(Photo: Apurvi Chandela Facebook)
Excerpts from an interview with Timesofindia.com:
Two Indian flags at top of the ISSF Rankings. What was your first reaction?
I was extremely happy, because world number one is a milestone. It’s taken me a while (to achieve that), but I’m really happy to reach there. I have been working hard. It feels good when results show (in rankings).
Were you expecting this?
Since February, the first World Cup (of 2019), I had been number two and Anjum number three. We both were happy for each other, of course. Then this (becoming number one) happened. It wasn’t a shock for us, because we both had been there for some time now. But obviously when it results in becoming the top-ranked shooter, it’s a great feeling.
Have you re-worked your targets after this milestone?
The ultimate aim is, of course, to perform well at the Olympics; but apart from that, there are some international competitions that are important, like the World Cup. I take each match as it comes and I try to give my best.
You are one of those athletes who largely like to stay away from the spotlight. Is it something you do intentionally or that’s how you are?
With me, obviously I like winning and all that comes with it; but at the same time, it’s natural for me to stay grounded. It’s sport at the end of the day. It takes seconds to go up and seconds to drop down. You can’t control everything or hang onto the top position and sit there forever. You have to be aware of the roller-coaster ride that it is. When results show, you can be happy. I don’t involve myself in all of that (big celebrations) much. If something like number one happens, I go away and celebrate with my family, then that’s done. I know the next day I have to work hard again to maintain all of this.
Do you also switch off from the sport from time to time and indulge yourself in activities that are refreshing and calm you down?
When I am back home, I like doing that because I am a home bird completely, because while shooting, I am all the time travelling for camps and competitions. I have a shooting range at home itself. So I don’t have to move out of the house. I can just be there, shoot and spend time with the family. So that works out for me really well. And I unwind by spending time with my dog. I am a complete animal lover.
(Photo Courtesy: Apurvi Chandela)
What does it take to perform consistently, especially in a sport like shooting where fine margins make a big difference?
To be able to perform at the international level consistently, it takes a lot. Like any other sportsperson, we have our training routine. I shoot for about 3-4 hours a day. After that, there’s physical training, mental training, a lot that’s involved. I am happy that I am on the right path.
On the coaching front, how do you balance training under your personal coach (Rakesh Manpat) and national rifle coach (Oleg Mikhailov)?
I train back home (in Jaipur) or in Bengaluru, where my personal coach is, and when I am back with the (Indian) team, I have a good rapport with the coach currently there, Oleg sir. He understands me well and knows what works for me, what doesn’t. He has been working with us for quite some time now (since September 2016). So there’s an understanding with my personal and national team coach. They are aware of each other. So that works out fine for me. They let me be in my space, because that’s more important for me to work with a clear mind.
Do you have a bucket list for your shooting career?
There’s still a lot left to achieve and I hope to continue the same way.