Manu Bhaker biography
Even as a teenager, Manu Bhaker has quickly risen through the ranks to become the latest Indian shooting star.
Born in Jhajjar, Haryana, a state known for its boxers and wrestlers, Manu Bhaker took to sports like tennis, skating and boxing in school. She also participated in a form of martial arts called ‘thang ta’, winning medals at the national level.
She then impulsively decided to try her hand at shooting when she was just 14 – just after the 2016 Rio Olympics ended – and had her heart on it soon. Within a week, Manu Bhaker asked her father to get her a sport shooting pistol to hone her craft.
Her ever-supportive father, Ram Kishan Bhaker, fulfilled her wish and Manu’s burgeoning talent soon manifested itself on the national stage within a year.
At the 2017 national shooting championships, Manu Bhaker stunned Olympian and former world No. 1 Heena Sidhu, shooting a new record score of 242.3, incidentally breaking Sidhu’s record to beat her in the 10m Air Pistol final.
She then added a silver medal at the 2017 Asian junior championships and the following year, Manu Bhaker announced her arrival on the big stage in style.
Making her International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF) World Cup debut at Guadalajara, Mexico, Manu Bhaker broke the junior world record in the qualification rounds to sail into the women’s 10m Air Pistol final.
Up against Olympic gold-medallist Anna Korakaki, three-time World Cup medallist Celine Goberville, and local favourite Alejandra Zavala in the final, Manu Bhaker shot a total of 237.5 to win the gold medal on debut.
At just 16 years old, it made her the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at an ISSF World Cup.
Manu Bhaker then paired up with Om Prakash Mitherval to win her second gold in the 10m Air Pistol mixed team event.
Bhaker was still eligible to participate in the ISSF Junior World Cup, and she promptly won gold medals in the individual and mixed team event in the 10m Air Pistol.
A month later, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, Manu Bhaker shot a new Games record to clinch the women 10m Air Pistol gold.
She then won another gold in the 10m Air Pistol at her second ISSF Junior World Cup to add to a bronze at the mixed team event while narrowly missing out on a medal in the 25m pistol event.
Though she did not medal at the 2018 Asian Games, Manu Bhaker ended the year by creating history at the 2018 Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She won the 10m Air Pistol gold, becoming the first Indian shooter and first female Indian athlete to win gold at the Youth Olympics.
The teenager then teamed up with Saurabh Chaudhary at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi and it has proved to be a very fruitful partnership thus far.
The duo won the mixed team gold medals at all three ISSF World Cups in 2019 and at the World Cup final in China, Manu Bhaker won both the individual and mixed team event gold.
Manu Bhaker also sealed an Olympics quota for Indian shooters with a fourth-place finish at the Munich World Cup. She is likely to make her Olympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020.
Young shooters Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary are considered one of the medal favourites for India at the Tokyo Olympics, both individually and as a team, and going by their form for the past two years, it is easy to see why.