I perform best when coach Rana is around, says Manu Bhaker

The nine-time ISSF World Cup gold medallist said that the absence of her personal coach Jaspal Rana was slightly holding her performances back.

Published : Sep 17, 2023 19:52 IST , NEW DELHI - 5 MINS READ

Coach Jaspal Rana with Manu Bhaker (R).
Coach Jaspal Rana with Manu Bhaker (R). | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Coach Jaspal Rana with Manu Bhaker (R). | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Indian pistol shooter Manu Bhaker on Sunday indicated that not being allowed the freedom to take her personal coach Jaspal Rana in major international competitions could be holding back her performance, and requested the NRAI to resolve the issue.

Legendary pistol shooter Rana recently reunited with Bhaker after the much-publicised split two years back ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Rana is now working with the multiple-time World Cup gold medallist to help her bag a 2024 Paris Olympic quota and win medals at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

But the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) policy of not allowing personal coaches to accompany shooters at international competitions is something which has been a sore point with several marksmen for long.

“I’m hoping that this situation gets sorted soon. I’ve put in a request that he (Rana) accompanies me for major competitions, like the quota competitions or the World Championships and the major events at least,” Manu told PTI on the sidelines of a sendoff function organised for the Asian Games-bound shooting team.

The Hangzhou Asian Games are scheduled to commence on September 23.

Manu, who missed Rana during the World Championships in Baku recently, however, hoped the issue will be resolved soon.

“Most likely it will be sorted. I think Kalikesh (Singdeo, NRAI president) is really supportive of me and he’s been helping me out and in certain situations.

“Even the team coaches are very coordinating (co-operative) but, I believe, my best performance lies with my (personal) coach only, which is why we have reunited,” added Manu, the winner of nine World Cup gold medals in individual and team events.

Asked about the key areas Rana was working on to improve her performance, Manu said the multiple-time Asian Games gold medallist’s ability to “distract me in a positive way” was something no other coach could do.

“He (Rana) just knows how to work with me. He’s been working with me since I was a child and he just knows the tricks and the things how to distract me in a positive way, like take my mind off things which are bothering me. So, I think he knows the secret (to make me a better shooter).

“Anything that takes my mind off my technique, I always discuss it with him. Anything, like the exams coming up or maybe I’ve had a fight with somebody, so it’s like I talk to him about everything. He easily calms me down or just gives me a solution or tells me what to do, what is the right thing to do,” added Manu, who will be competing in the 25m sports pistol event at the Asian Games.

Manu had competed in three pistol events during the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games but couldn’t win a medal. The Haryana shooter said she will try to give her best performance at Hangzhou.

“The expectations from the Asian Games will always remain the same. I’ll try to give the best performance as per my ability, and the best I can do for the Indian shooting team and the Indian contingent . So, the aim would be the same — to be in the best form and to be able to give my best.

Manu added that she would continue to train and compete in both the 10m and 25m pistol events and give equal importance to both, even though she would be competing in the 25m pistol event at the Asian Games.

“As much as I love my other events (10m air pistol), I love 25m as well. I would like to shoot in 10m also I would give my best in 25m as well,” she added.

The champion shooter is hopeful of clinching a Paris Olympic quota place during the Asian Championships in Changwon, South Korea, which will take place after the Asian Games.

“I feel it (Asian Games) will be a bright competition and the entire shooting team, including me, we are all geared up and very much looking forward to the event for quota places.”

Does the pistol malfunction during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which probably cost her a place in the 10m air pistol final, still haunt her? Manu indicated it was one of those days when it just happened, adding that she has “full trust” in her equipment.

“I think, whenever you are competing you need to have full trust in your equipment and your ability.

“If you have the slightest of trust issues, I don’t think you are ready to shoot in the competition, so you have to have full faith and full trust in every possible thing, your equipment, yourself, your coach and the entire team.” The champion shooter feels the learnings from being a top-notch athlete will help her when she is done with the sport.

“I’m done with my Bachelors in political science. Now, I am pursuing public administration from Punjab University, so have all political subjects like international relations, indian administration and stuff like that. The experience that I get travelling, socialising with different people, different backgrounds, different countries, cultures... that definitely counts. I believe you should have something side by side (to fall back upon).

“If you put so much attention on one specific thing, it will probably mess your head up. So, having two things is a bliss for me and I enjoy it.”

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