Asian Olympic Qualifiers 2024: Nancy Defies Past Back Injury, Wins 10m Air Rifle Gold

Nancy pipped compatriot and Olympian Elavenil Valarivan to win the women's 10m air rifle gold at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers 2024 in Jakarta. The teenaged shooter from Kurukshetra now has her sights set on Paris

Nancy won the women's 10m air rifle gold medal at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers 2024 in Jakarta.

A back injury proved to be a blessing in disguise for teenage shooter Nancy, who earned the biggest trophy of her nascent career by winning the women's 10m air rifle gold at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers in Jakarta on Wednesday. (More Sports News)

Nancy, barely 13 years and a few months old in 2018, suffered serious injuries to her back when she lost her stepping on an unpaved road, which left her bed-ridden for nearly a month.

The 19-year-old, however, was all grit and gumption on Wednesday while hitting the bullseye on every shot on the way to clinching gold, beating compatriot Olympian Elavenil Valarivan and a host of international top-notch shooters.

"Nancy had just stepped out of the house to see off her classmate when she lost her footing on a rocky road and took a nasty tumble. She was in and out of hospital for a month," her father Azad Singh told PTI from Kurukshetra in Haryana.

"After nearly a month of rest and rehabilitation, when she joined the school and was asked to attend PT (physical training) classes, she urged her teacher to be excused as she was suffering from multiple slip discs because of the fall," added Singh, a farmer.

"The teacher, in turn, told her to choose a sport which wasn't as 'strenuous' as PT. Luckily, the shooting coach at school was passing by and asked Nancy if she would be interested in the sport," said Singh, the son of an army man, who did not pursue studies beyond Class VIII.

"Nancy has not looked back since and is so dedicated that she has made us believe that she will compete in the Paris Olympics this year," said Azad, who owns 10 acres of farmland.

It helped that Nancy's mother is a Masters in Business Administration.

"I could not study beyond Class VIII but my wife is an MBA," said Azad, adding that, helping Nancy overcome that injury phase was tough, but "my wife stood as a pillar of strength behind her."

On Wednesday Nancy, who only goes by her first name, shot a superb 252.8 in the final field of eight to clinch gold.

"We always knew she was capable of winning gold. She will go on to compete in the Paris Olympics knowing well that some other shooters have bagged the quota for the country," said Singh.

It was a "biradari" (clan) thing that led to Azad's marriage to someone who had completed her Masters in Business Administration.

"Hamara biradari mein naam hai (We are well known in our clan) as we own 10 acres of land. My father was in the Indian army," said Singh when asked how the marriage was solemnised.

The couple have four children, with Nancy's elder sister talking up shooting after watching her do well at the international level. Nancy won the junior world championship team gold in 2022 and that achievement was eclipsed on Wednesday when she clinched gold in the premier continental event in Jakarta.

Coming from a rustic background, how did Singh name his daughter Nancy, an Anglican name?

"Well, when she was born, 'N' was the auspicious word and my wife took a call and named her Nancy," said Azad.

Nancy's coach Deepak Dubey said he has not seen a more dedicated shooter than her in his career.

"She waited patiently for a full six months to get into the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) at the Karni Singh Ranges as there were no slots available then. She has proved herself and is now in the big league," said Dubey, who is also credited with the success of Olympian rifle shooter Diyvansh Singh Panwar.

"She is there at the range before time and her parents, I would say, are determined to make her a champion shooter," said Dubey.

The parents are planning to travel to Delhi to welcome Nancy at the Indira Gandhi Airport when she arrives from Jakarta.

"Her flight from Jakarta will land in Mumbai from where she will travel to Delhi. We are all looking forward to welcoming her in Delhi... She will certainly be on the flight to Paris (for the Olympics)," concluded Singh.