Youngest Indian Shooter to Win Gold at ISSF World Cup – Manu Bhaker
For many, it is difficult to etch their name in history at the tender age of 16. But for Manu Bhaker, it took just over a couple of years to become India’s first and World’s third youngest shooter to win the gold at the junior World Cup in Sydney.
She also won gold earlier this month in Mexico. Here’s how Manu managed to balance her school and while further enhancing her shooting skills.
Manu started going for boxing classes at an early age of 6 and she also participated in karate classes, played cricket, tennis, kabaddi and the Manipur martial art Tang Ta. She also has some medals under her sleeve in athletics too and also actively practiced skating.
The list goes with winning a gold at nationals for Ta Tang and other national level medals in karate. But, she wasn’t content with all this achievements and began to learn shooting in 2016 at the age of 14. The choice was mostly inclined towards her mother’s fears that Manu might injure herself if she played any contact sports.
The Goria village in Haryana, where Manu hails from is the only place with a shooting range in the whole district of Jhajjar. The shooting range is more than 25 kilo meters away from where she lives and Manu had to commute this tiring distance every day by train. The journey takes around 5 hours every day. Certainly a tiring schedule for a 14 year old girl with such aspirations of winning the championship.
Initially, Manu had difficulties in attending the school as well and was feared if her academic career would take a toll. She also took extra evening classes to make up for the ones she has missed due to her training. She’s even seen carrying her books to the camps at the national level reflecting her interests in academics all the while becoming fiercely competitive at sports and winning medals as she participates in national and international events. But she isn’t just juggling around the books and coaching classes all the way. When she’s at the coaching, she always has questions for coaches and learns how to focus and further improve her skills.
Once she is at the range and sets to look at the target through the eye-piece, she becomes an altogether different person with firm feet and focusing on the target. Manu says that her regular practice of yoga and meditation help her to switch on and off very easily and this in fact makes her concentrate more in less time.
This hard work, practice and resolution is what made her to win twice in just four days at the ISSF Junior World Cup this year. Last year, she was at the 49th place. To win the gold, she beat multiple World Cup finals gold medallist and local favourite Alejandra with a slight 0.4 point difference. Alejandra began her shooting career even before Manu was born.
As for Manu, competing against the top three multiple World Cup medallists is more than winning the gold. She says that this attainment will further motivate her to achieve further as she moves on with her studies and sports. She secured 10 CGPA in her Board Examinations and aspires to become a doctor.
Meanwhile at her home in Goria, Manu’s father Ram Kishan is busy expanding the cupboard that holds the medals won by his daughter. He’s an engineer at merchant navy and Manu’s mother, Neeta is the principal at Universal Senior Secondary School where Manu is a student.