The 18th Asian Games are all set to kick off at Jakarta and Palembang from the 18th August. This pan-Asian multi-sport event will see 462 events in 40 disciplines. In the run-up to the games, SheThePeople.TV looks at the some of the finest female sportspersons India is pinning their hopes on.

The first on the list is 16-year-old shooting prodigy Manu Bhaker,  who started shooting in the shooting range of Universal Senior Secondary School, Goria village, Jhajjar district Haryana, 125 km from Delhi. She will be part of the Indian shooting squad for the upcoming games extravaganza. Manu will represent India in the women’s air pistol. Here’s a look at how the youngster became an overnight sensation in India.

 

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, after getting badly injured in the eyes. Yet the dilemma whether to carry on with swords or to get transferred to boxing kept her busy for a while.

She admires Mary Kom as her idol. 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 happened accidentally when one day at her school’s shooting range court, she casually took up a gun and shot a straight 7.5.

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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. Both work as the backbone to their daughter’s brilliant success in the recent years. In fact, while her home state is notorious for gender inequality, Manu’s family runs the Universal school, space where students above class five of either gender can take up shooting if interested.

International debut

Manu made her international debut this year in March. She has collected two gold medals for India in the ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico. She first grabbed the spotlight after winning a silver medal at the 2017 Asian Junior Championships. Later, she won nine gold medals and went on to defeat World Cup medallist Heena Sidhu, breaking Sidhu’s record of 240.8 points, scoring 242.3 points in the final of the 2017 National Games held at Kerala.

While competing in the 2018 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup held in Guadalajara, Mexico, she added another gold medal in the medal tally. She won her second gold medal at the World Cup in the mixed team event.

The prodigy went on to bag the women’s 10m air pistol gold medal at the CWG 2018. Prior to that, at her maiden senior World Cup, she became the new sensation in pistol shooting. 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.

Brand ambassador Manu

She is a brand ambassador for her first product Pee Safe, a sanitiser for toilet seats.

Fearless shooter

Manu’s mother who is a yoga enthusiast said, her daughter is fearless in time of considering opportunities. “I was very keen that she learn martial arts and become strong and independent,’’ she says, Economic Times reported. Till December last year, Manu was dabbling her hands with the nationals where she won 15 medals. She then managed to study for two months before her class X exams.

Manu said that she was looking forward to the competition in the Asian Games, which could be a lot different from the Commonwealth Games. “Nobody will bring the medals to you. You have to go and win them at every level. Asian Games will have different countries,” Manu said.

“Nobody will bring the medals to you. You have to go and win them at every level. Asian Games will have different countries.” – Manu Bhaker

Shooting at the Asian Games will be held at the Jakabaring International Shooting Range in Palembang, Indonesia from August 18 to 27.

SheThePeople.TV wishes all athletes best of luck at the upcoming Asian Games

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