Manu Bhaker is one of the most talented Indian sports shooters. She represented India at the 2018 ISSF World Cup and went on to win two gold medals. That feat made her the youngest Indian to ever win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup. The 16-year-old Manu Bhaker then clinched a gold medal in women’s 10m air pistol event at 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Due to her immense potential, Bhaker is viewed as India’s genuine medal hope at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Air Pistol Shooting
Date of Birth
18 February 2002
Gold at 2017 ISSF World Cup, 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2018 Youth Olympic Games
Ram Kishan Bhaker
Manu Bhaker Story
Manu Bhaker was born in Jhajjar district’s Goria village in Haryana. Ram Kishan Bhaker, her father, plies his trade as a chief engineer in the Merchant Navy.
During her school time, Manu competed in sports like boxing, Huyen Langlon, a Manipuri martial art, skating, and tennis. Not only that, but she also won a couple national games medals in these events.
Nonetheless, her true calling lay in something else. Aged just 14, Manu informed her father that she wanted to take up competitive shooting. The latter complied duly and pledged her full support in her endeavour. Ram also made a huge investment of ₹1,50,000 a month after Manu had taken up shooting. The trust and confidence that her father had shown in her were soon going to pay off…
2017- Initial Success
Manu Bhaker first tasted real success at the international level after she won a silver medal at the 2017 Asian Junior Championships.
She then announced her arrival in the senior circle by winning 9 gold medals at the 2017 National Games, Kerala. Not only that, but the 15-something even defeated highly experienced and multiple World Cup medalist Heena Sidhu in the final. What more is that she also broke Sidhu’s 240.8 point-record, scoring 242.3 points of her own in the final.
2018- The Breakthrough Year
After having impressed at the national level, it was time for Manu Bhaker to set the global stage on fire.
Competing at the 2018 International Shooting Sports Federation World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, Bhaker was going to face seasoned international shooting stars as her stiff competition.
Nonetheless, Bhaker surprisingly prevailed over all of them. Most prominent of them all was local favourite Alejandra Zavala, a two-time champion.
Gold for Manu Bhaker
Bhaker scored 237.5 in the final match against her, more than the 237.1 that Zavala had scored, to win her maiden Gold. By clinching the gold medal at the age of 16, Bhaker became the youngest Indian to ever win a World Cup gold medal.
However, she was not going to stop there itself. Manu then went on to partner with compatriot Om Prakash Mitharval in the World Cup’s 10 meters Air Pistol mixed team event to win her second gold medal. The pair registered a score of 476.1 points, defeating Christian Reitz and Sandra Reitz (475.2.) in the process to win the yellow metal.
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018
In-form Bhaker’s next stop was down south at the Gold Coast. Excelling through the initial stages, she scored 388/400 points in the women’s 10m air pistol qualifying round to be eligible for the finals.
In the final round of the women’s 10m air pistol event during the Games, she won the gold medal in the most glazing fashion – by setting a new 10m Air pistol Commonwealth Games record of 240.9 points.
Manu Bhaker at the Asian Games
After having previously broken numerous records, hopes were high in the run-in to the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games from Bhaker.
She started the Games in a promising fashion, scoring a record score of 593 in the 25m Air pistol event’s qualification round. However, quite surprisingly, she ended up 6th in the final, thus failing to win a medal. Eventually, it was her compatriot Rahi Sarnobat who clinched the Gold in this event.
2018 Youth Olympic Games – The Redemption
Bhaker was always India’s best prospect for gold at the Youth Olympic Games. Her selection as India’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony, therefore, did not come as a surprise.
But the Commonwealth gold winner seemed to be in some sort of a slump for the past few months. She returned empty-handed at both the Asian Games and Changwon World Championship. Her father, Ramkishen Bhaker, informed about her disappointment after the Asian Games, stating how “unusually dull” she was after her poor show.
“She doesn’t like losing, and more than that, she was gutted that she let herself and the country down at the Asian Games,” Ram Kishan said.
After the Asian Games upset, it seemed as though she was buckling under the weight of India’s high expectations. Or was she overrated?
But Bhaker was certainly not a flash in the pan. She is one of those athletes who will not take a no for a failure. She made amends for the harrowing misses in both the games in the best possible manner, by putting a tip-top performance on a much global stage of Youth Olympics. In the process, she justified India’s high hopes from her.
How it all Unfolded
At the YOG, Manu Bhaker topped the qualifying round easily, with a score of 576. Those included a series of 95, 96, 96, 96, 95, 98 scores. Her immediate opponent had a score of 569, showing the gulf in Bhaker and her fellow opponent’s quality.
Bhaker then began the 10m Pistol Shooting finals with a 10.0 and followed it with a 10.1 and 10.4 thereafter. At the end of Stage 1, she led the eight-woman final with 99.3, after a sequence that included seven 10+ scores.
Although Bhaker started the second stage, the elimination round, with two 9.8s, she followed them up with a 10.1 and 9.9. Those scores helped her maintain the lead over her Asian compatriot, Thailand’s Kanyakorn Hirunphoem.
Thereafter, she led most of the time, with a brief slip to a second place. She won the event unanimously, with competition rarely giving her any significant challenge.
As a result, Manu Bhaker became India’s first shooter and also the first Indian woman to win a Youth Olympic gold.
These feats make Manu Bhaker as one of the most promising players to win a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Manu Bhaker Family
Manu Bhaker was born on 18 February 2002 in the Goria village of Jhajjar district, Haryana. Her father, Ram Kishan Bhaker, is a chief engineer in the Merchant Navy. It was he who first inspired and then supported Manu’s shooting antiques.
Her mother as well her uncle assume the roles of a principal and founder respectively at a shooting school in Haryana. Although the school is not state-of-the-art, according to Ram Kishan, it is inspiring a number of youths in Goria village to take up shooting.