India’s teenage shooting prodigy Manu Bhaker along with Saurabh Chaudhary won their third consecutive 10m air pistol mixed team gold at the year’s third International Shooting Sport World Cup in Munich on Thursday. The 17-year-old has recently secured India its seventh Olympic quota in shooting. Earlier this week her stellar performance led her to finish fourth in the women’s 10m air pistol event of the ISSF World Cup.

The dynamic duo showed  outperformed once again and beat the Ukrainian pair, Olena Kostevych and Oleg Omelchuk, 17-9 in the final.

Manu, 17, missed a medal by 0.1 point but ensured a quota for the 2020 Tokyo Games

They had won the 10m air pistol mixed team gold at the World Cups in Delhi and Beijing earlier this year, and topped the qualification table both times.

This is India’s fifth gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Munich and they lead the table with six medals.

The best mixed team in shooting

Bhaker and Chaudhary smashed the qualification world record and clinched the 10m air pistol mixed team gold in the 12th Asian Airgun Championship in Taoyuan, Taipei in March. 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.

In doing so, they broke the record set by the Russian duo Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov at the European Championships.

READ: Why Manu Bhaker Banned Her Parents From Asian Games

Who is Manu Bhaker?

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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