Born to an engineer from the Merchant Navy and a school principal, Manu Bhaker has been the ambassador of Indian shooting for the last several years. Despite failing to win an Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020, she can be proud of her efforts and hope to come back stronger in Paris 2024. While she took to shooting from an early age, her rather meteoric rise has popularised the sport in Garia village, Haryana, which happens to be her birthplace.
She was in news recently when after taking 16 shots in the women’s 10m air pistol qualification event at the Asaka Shooting Range at Tokyo 2020, her gun started to malfunction. While that was certainly not the experience she was hoping for in her maiden Olympic appearance, all of this, added to an overall underwhelming performance from the Indian shooting contingent.
Here's all you need to know about her:
Name: Manu Bhaker
Born on: 18 February 2002
Birthplace: Garia village, Jhajjar District, Haryana
Height: 1.56 m
Coach: Jaspal Rana
Records: Bhaker is the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup. In addition, she is second youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth games. She is also the holder of the Commonwealth Games records with 240.9 points as well as the junior world record holder of 244.7 at the ISSF World Cup, China in 2019.
How did she take up shooting?
Much like golden boy Neeraj Chopra, Bhaker accidentally took up her sport. Her school had a shooting range and while trying her hand at it in the very first shot of her life with no prior training or expertise, she hit the 7.5 mark. There was no looking back from there as the people around her recognised her talent and even mobilised financial resources to secure her equipment and coaching. Her father played a very important role in her journey.
Was Tokyo 2020 her first Olympic appearance?
Although she has already made a name for herself by winning medals at the Commonwealth Games and other World Events, this was the shooter's first Olympic appearance. At 19, one expects her to learn from her experience and put up a better show in her subsequent Olympic appearances. In fact, both Sourabh Choudhary and Bhaker happen to be teenagers which means India's chances of a medal in the individual as well as mixed-event event look bright ahead.