Manu Bhaker is a very accomplished shooter. At 20, the Political Science graduate from Lady Shriram College in the Capital has won 25 gold medals in international competitions around the world.
That count does not include her accomplishments in the Commonwealth Games or Commonwealth Championships.
Yet, Manu respects every competition at the national level, and is in fact, “looking forward” to competing in the National Games in Gujarat from September 29.
“Ever since I started shooting, there has been no National Games. Last year there was a rumour that it would happen in Goa. But nothing happened. So, I am positively looking forward to the National Games and the experience”, said Manu, in an interaction with Sportstar, on Thursday.
Will the National Games be a distraction for Manu, who is diligently preparing for the World Championship to be staged in Egypt next month?
“No competition is a distraction. Every competition is unique and we learn so much. I enjoy every competition at all levels. It tests my abilities and helps me know what I need to improve. Even though there will only be 16 in each event in the National Games, they will be the best 16. So, it will be very good competition”, said Manu, who will be competing in both the air pistol and sports pistol events in the National Games.
With world-class shooters in the Indian system, Manu felt that it would be good preparation for the World Championship, competing against each other in the National Games.
About the postponed Asian Games in China, Manu was unperturbed.
‘’I don’t think about things that are not in our control. I don’t know whether it is good or bad that the Asian Games got postponed”, she said.
In the World Championship, Manu will only be shooting the 25-metre sports pistol, as she lost her place in the air pistol team.
“I am No.1 in 25-metre sports pistol. I tried my best in the selection trials for the 10-metre air pistol. I have never been in any competition in which I have not shot air pistol. It will be the first time in the World Championship. I do understand that nobody can be on top all the time. Probably, this is a sour year for me. I am not giving up and really working hard in air pistol’’, said Manu, as she gave credit to her parents Sumedha and Ramkishan, for always being “very positive” and helping her see life from the right perspective.
Has the international federation got the count right for her gold medals, as it had been missing some medals in recent times?
‘’I don’t know. I used to count my medals till 2018. Afterwards, I kept winning, but stopped counting!” she said.
For someone who wanted to pursue the medical line and be a doctor, Manu has been quite comfortable studying Political Science and conceded that it was a “lot more interesting” than what she had expected.
“I really wanted to be a doctor in 2017. But my coach at that time told my parents that I was doing well in shooting and that they should give me a year for the sport. At the district level, I made the national team in one year. So, I had to change from medical line to humanities in 12th standard. It was hard for me to cover the syllabus one month before the exams. No point doing well in shooting, and failing in school”, said Manu.
As she has grown into various other subjects, Manu says that she would love to study any subject, but has priority for Political Science and Law, as she looks forward to doing her Masters degree at Delhi University.
‘’Am also interested in doing the Designing course or study Sports Psychology’’, Manu said.
A shooter par excellence, Manu’s penchant for studies ensures all-round development of her personality.
One of the brightest athletes in the country, persistently supported by the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) of the Sports Ministry, Manu Bhaker is bound to roar back to the top, both with air pistol and sports pistol.