Manu Bhaker wins gold in Youth Olympics

After topping qualification with 576 out of 600, Manu stayed in the lead for the most part of the final even as the challengers kept taking turn to keep her on her toes. Manu eventually shot 236.5 for the gold.

Manu Bhaker has been in fabulous form this season, wining the World Cup gold medals among the women and juniors thrice, apart from securing the Commonwealth Games gold.   -  Getty Images

Air pistol ace Manu Bhaker delivered the promised gold in the Youth Olympics to lift the spirits of the Indian camp on Tuesday.

After the two silver medals by Shahu Tushar Mane and Mehuli Ghosh in air rifle, the 16-year-old Manu ensured the gold as she warded off the threat first from Katiyakorn Hirunphoem of Thailand and later from Nino Khutsiberidze of Georgia, before prevailing over Iana Enina of Russia by 0.6 point.

After topping qualification with 576 out of 600, Manu stayed in the lead for the most part of the final even as the challengers kept taking turn to keep her on her toes.

Manu eventually shot 236.5 for the gold.

After 11 of her first 22 shots in the final were 9s, Manu handled the crunch well even though she had a 1.5 point cushion over the Russian, with shots of 10.1 and 10.2.

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The Russian had better hits at 10.7 and 10.5 but could only reduce the margin.

It was no surprise, as Manu has been in fabulous form this season, wining the World Cup gold medals among the women and juniors thrice, apart from securing the Commonwealth Games gold.

She had failed to secure medals in the Asian Games in which she made the finals of both air pistol and sports pistol with top scores. Even in the World Championship in Korea, Manu could not make the finals in the two events.

The gold in the Youth Olympics should convince many about her potential to be ready for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

India has so far won only two Olympic quota places in shooting, through Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela in air rifle.

With a gold and two silver from the three shooters so far, India will be gunning for a heady climax through Saurabh Chaudhary, the Asian Games gold medallist.

There will also be mixed international team events in rifle and pistol thereafter.