A healthy distraction

Manu Bhaker was named Best Young Athlete (Girls) at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

Manu Bhaker was India’s flag-bearer at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.   -  Getty Images

Manu Bhaker aspires to be a doctor, but the student of Class XII in a school in Jhajjar, Haryana, run by her parents finds shooting a healthy distraction. And the medical world may perhaps have to wait for another doctor, especially after the year she just had.

The 16-year-old began 2018 with a gold medal in the women’s as well as mixed team 10m air pistol events at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, in March. Then, she won five gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the ISSF Junior World Cup held in Sydney, Australia, and Suhl in Germany.

In Australia’s Gold Coast in April, Bhaker won the 10m air pistol event with a record 240.9 points at the Commonwealth Games.

Then came the stumble. Participating in the 25m pistol event at the Asian Games in Indonesia in August, Bhaker shot a meet record 593 to qualify for the final, but only finished sixth while compatriot Rahi Sarnobat won the gold medal. In her favourite 10m air pistol, Bhaker was third in qualifying, but placed fifth in the final.

A month later, she returned from the World Shooting Championships without a medal.

But Bhaker capped off her year with success at the biggest stage of her career till date — winning the gold medal in the 10m air pistol event at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October, along with the mixed international team silver in the same discipline with Bezhan Fayzullaev of Tajikistan.<

“Thank you, Sportstar. I am coming from a pratise session. I haven't changed my clothes and I am elated to be here," said a smiling Manu Bhaker after receiving the Best Young Athlete (Girls) at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

The beginning of 2019 showed that Bhaker on Twitter could be as powerful as Bhaker on the trigger, calling out Haryana’s sports minister on social media for the monetary awards promised to sportspersons.

But for now, Bhaker’s focus will be on securing an Olympic quota for the 2020 Tokyo Games.