CHENNAI: H fortunes change so quickly! Just 60 hours ago, one of India’s most promising shooters, Manu Bhaker, had been left searching for answers after narrowly missing out on a quota for Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 25m pistol of the ongoing ISSF World Cup in Munich. During the vital period in the finals, her pistol had malfunctioned twice and she eventually finished fifth. It seemed like her struggle that had begun since start of the season, was likely to continue.
While Bhaker exited the range with a heartbreak, her senior Rahi Sarnobat had put up a flawless show to secure a quota for India. Most would have likely taken a fair amount of time to recover. Not Bhaker.
On Wednesday, Bhaker scripted a memorable return. She just missed out on a podium by 0.1 points in the women’s 10m air pistol event. But that miss is insignificant given that she managed to win a quota for the country. Social media went abuzz as India now had secured a total of seven shooting quotas.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh couldn’t hide his excitement. “Manu misses a medal by 0.01!!! however well done young lady you have ensured that your country will be shooting in your event at Tokyo. Brave hearts get there eventually,” he had posted on Twitter.
In the qualification round, Manu had garnered 582 points with 28 inner 10s to advance to final as third-best shooter. In the finals, she was up against the cream of the sport. World No 1 Anna Korakaki of Greece and Korea’s Kim Minjung (World No 2) were some of the big names alongside Bhaker in the eight-woman showdown. The former eventually proved too strong as she took home the top prize while Minjung walked away with a bronze. Both had already earned the quota for their respective countries before the event. Hence, the two quotas on offer went to second-placed Wei Qian and Bhaker.
This is a big development for Bhaker who had been chasing for this result since the start of the year. Earlier in the Delhi World Cup, she had been reduced to tears after shooting blanks in front of home fans, where expectations were sky high. In the following World Cup in Beijing, the story was no different. It seemed like her 17-year-old mind was unable to cope with pressure.
Heena Sidhu, the other Indian in the event, finished 45th in qualification stage. Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma and Rahi are the other shooters from India to have won quotas so far.