India’s Manu Bhaker has quickly established herself as one of the rising stars in the shooting world.
She burst on to the international scene in early 2018 when, at the age of just 16, she twice topped the podium at the 2018 ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, becoming the youngest Indian athlete to win a gold medal at the World Cup.
The following month, she won gold in the 10m air pistol at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, setting a new Commonwealth Games record of 240.9 points in the process.
After finishing sixth at that year’s Asian Games – having set a Games record in the qualifying round – Bhaker went to the YOG in Buenos Aires as one of the firm favourites for gold. And she didn’t disappoint – first shooting 236.5 points to win the women’s 10m air pistol, before teaming up with Tajikistan’s Bezhan Fayzullaev to claim silver in the mixed-NOC event.
Since then, Bhaker has partnered compatriot and fellow YOG champion Saurabh Chaudhary to dominate the mixed team 10m air pistol event at the ISSF World Cup – winning four successive events in 2019 – while Bhaker also claimed gold in the individual event at the World Cup Final in Putian, China.
Her performances earned her qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that she will have to wait until next year to demonstrate her talents on the Olympic stage.
Here, the shooting star answers olympic.org’s quickfire questions…
How did you feel when the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were postponed?
“It was a bit disappointing, but people’s health is more important than sports.”
How has your training been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I am enjoying lockdown and doing my training at my home range. I try to see this opportunity as a positive, as it has given me time to explore my painting and spend quality time with my parents.”
How disappointing is it not to be competing in the ISSF World Cup at the moment?
“To miss out on any competition is not good.”
What was it like to compete in the International Online Shooting Championship?
“It was a great experience and very exciting, thanks to the organisers.”
How do you reflect on the YOG Buenos Aires 2018?
“It was amazing – an overwhelming experience.”
Do you feel your experiences at the YOG have helped prepare you for success at the senior level?
“Yes. Every competition brings experience and can give you a boost.”
Do you think your experiences at the YOG will help you when you compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 next year?
“Of course. The Olympic Games will be similar to the Youth Olympic Games, so it will certainly help.”
Do you think that having an extra year to prepare for Tokyo 2020 could benefit you, as it will give you the chance to gain more experience?
“Not really; I was well prepared for 2020.”
What are your goals for the Tokyo?
“To win gold, maybe even multiple golds.”