Manu Bhaker gears up in earnest for ISSF World Cup

The 17-year-old shooter hopes to gain the Olympic quota spot at the event.

Working hard: Manu Bhaker is having to devote time to her studies as well to prepare for the Board examinations.   -  PTI

Manu Bhaker, India’s 17-year-old shooter, is having to devote time to her sport as well as studies, as the Class XII Board examinations draw nigh.

On the sporting front, Bhaker is focussed on securing a quota spot for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. She will have her chance to do so at the ISSF World Cup that begins at the Dr. Karni Singh Range on Saturday. “I am doing little extra work as my Class XII exams are also scheduled [for] just after the World Cup. Hence, I study for my exams after practice,” Bhaker told PTI.

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) had recently requested the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to reschedule the examinations for Class XII for Bhaker and fellow marksman Vijayveer Sidhu, to avoid a clash with the upcoming Asian Airgun Championships.

‘Pressure’

At the World Cup, Bhaker will look to join the list of those having qualified for the 2020 Olympics. Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela have already gained Olympic quota spots courtesy of their impressive performances at the World Championships in 2018. The Indian shooting fraternity hopes there are more candidates over the next few days. “Hope we will get it...pressure is bit more this time around as Olympic tickets are there,” Bhaker said.

Read | Pakistan shooters not taking part in ISSF World Cup

Five hundred and three shooters (approximately) from 58 countries will compete for top honours at the event. Out of the 10 categories, eight will provide 16 quota places for the Games.

Read | Gagan Narang keen on a shot at Tokyo Olympics

After having excelled in the junior circuit, Bhaker has maintained high standards of performances when competing among seniors. In 2018, she bagged a handful of medals at the ISSF World Cup — it was the first time she was participating in the event — and performed well at the Commonwealth Games and the Youth Olympics. She also had her first brush with failure, and criticism for it.

Olympic gold the ‘ultimate goal’

“I am doing well in my practice and hope everything will be good. Second year is a number only,” she said. “Olympic gold is the ultimate goal,” she declared.

Bhaker is looking forward to training with her coach Jaspal Rana, who was not part of the pre-World Cup national camp following a selection controversy. “Jaspal sir is a great coach, and he will be joining soon,” she said.