India’s teenage shooting prodigy Manu Bhaker along with Saurabh Chaudhary smashed the qualification world record and clinched the 10m air pistol mixed team gold in the 12th Asian Airgun Championship in Taoyuan, Taipei on Wednesday. A month after winning the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup stage gold in the same event in Delhi, the dynamic duo showed stellar performance once again.

Manu 17, and Saurabh 16, shot a combined score of 784 in the qualification round.

In doing so, they broke the record set by the Russian duo Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov at the European Championships five days ago. The duo went on to win the five-team final with a score of 484.8.

While the Indians won gold, Hwang Seongeun and Kim Mose of Korea got home the silver with a score of 481.1 and Wu Chia Ying and Kou Kuan-Ting claimed the bronze for the host country with a score of 413.3.

A second Indian team consisting of Anuradha and Abhishek Verma also reached the finals and finished fourth. They scored 372.1, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) said in a statement.

READ: Why Manu Bhaker Banned Her Parents From Asian Games

The pistol shooter, who hails from Goria village in Jhajjar, is one of India’s top young stars. She won multiple gold medals in her maiden senior World Cup, Commonwealth Games, besides clinching the top prize at the Youth Olympics last October.

Bhaker had become the first Indian shooter to win a gold at the Youth Olympics. The prodigy went on to bag the women’s 10m air pistol gold medal at the CWG 2018 too. Prior to that, at her maiden senior World Cup, she stunned the entire fraternity with her pistol shooting skill. She won the women’s air pistol gold at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany, becoming the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the event.

Manu secured India’s second individual gold at the ISSF Junior World Cup. She captured two gold medals — in individual and team events.

Why shooting

Coming from a state which has been home to various sporting talents the country boasts of, Manu too since her school days experimented with various sports forms. From volleyball, the interest shifted to Thang Ta, a popular martial art based in Manipur.

Manu juggled with other sports like Huyen Langlon, another Manipuri martial art, as well as boxing, tennis, and skating till she was 14. She went on to win medals at the National Games in these events. Shooting for her, happened accidentally when one day at her school’s shooting range court, she casually took up a gun and shot a straight 7.5.

Family as backbone

Manu’s father, Ram Kishan Bhaker, works as a chief engineer in the Merchant Navy whilst her mother Sumedha is an ex-school teacher. In fact, while her home state is notorious for gender inequality, Manu’s family runs a Universal school, which is a space where interested students, above class five of either gender, can take up shooting.

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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