Shooter Manu Bhaker undeterred by high expectations

From winning the Youth Olympics gold in 2018, to World Cup gold medals, Manu Bhakur has every chance to compete in three events at the Tokyo Olympics.

Manu Bhaker has every chance to succeed in the three events that she may get to shoot in the Tokyo Olympics.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Manu Bhaker has a disarming smile, and honesty dances in her eyes. There is mischief and charm, when she is not training her eyes on the target with a pistol in hand.

And when she gets into the mood to have a conversation, the way she did the other evening, with Rushdee Warley, the CEO of the Inspire Institute of Sport in Vijayanagar, where the shooters had a training camp, Manu can really bring the roof down.

-Experience-

“I want to see and experience it for myself first. Please don’t tell me anything about Tokyo,” said Manu, quite keen to retain the suspense about the atmosphere of her maiden Olympics.

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Having dominated the world right from winning the Youth Olympics gold in 2018, to World Cup gold medals, apart from sweeping all the international mixed air pistol gold medals in 2019, Manu has every chance to compete in three events. But she shows great maturity when queried on the prospects.

“Whatever opportunity I get, I will do the best for my country. It may be three events, two or one. I love the sport and I love to compete. It is the federation that will decide,” said Manu, with admirable maturity and composure.

-Counter-

She takes one’s breath away by countering the projection about the possible pressure of expectations.

“The high expectations means that people have faith in you. They support you. They have seen us dominate the world. I like it. I will genuinely try my best,” she said, eyes twinkling with pride.

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Interestingly, Manu had got into shooting only after the last Olympics in Rio in 2016.

“People think that I have just come up and started shooting great. I have trained hard, from 8 a.m. to 8 in the evening. Nothing comes easy. I know competing in the Olympics is a dream of every athlete. I have worked hard on a lot of things. There is no need to change at this stage. The 10-metre is the mother of all shooting. So, my 25-metre gets the support from it, especially the precision stage. I train duelling for about two hours’’, said Manu, as she summed up her preparations and approach to the Tokyo Games.

-Guru Jaspal Rana-

Manu owes a lot to guru Jaspal Rana, not just for her shooting, but for mentoring her personality.

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“He is always there for me. I have the trust to ask him anything, not necessarily about my shooting. He has vast experience and knowledge. He is passing that to me. He maintains strict discipline,” Manu said.

It is Manu’s 18th birthday today. The first year student of Lady Shriram College in the Capital, has the skill and resolve to make the country proud in the Olympics.

Happy birthday Manu! It is just a new beginning to an inspirational journey.