India’s ace pistol shooter Manu Bhaker is always able to retain an unwavering focus, come what may.
The uncertainties that surround the world due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have not altered that at all.
“The Olympics, whenever it happens, is huge, so we need to be prepared. I am preparing for the Olympics as planned,” she said in an interview to the Press Trust of India. “Shooting is very competitive now, especially 2019 and after, and it is evident from the scores.”
On the face of it, 2019 was a successful year for the 18-year-old from Jhajjar, Haryana. Manu Bhaker won an Olympic quota in women’s 10m Air Pistol and returned home with five World Cup gold medals in individual and team events last year. But a closer look at this would paint a slightly different picture.
Though she made the most of her talent in the mixed event, partnering the fellow 18-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary to win gold medals in New Delhi, Beijing, Munich and Rio de Janeiro, her individual form suffered a slight dip.
At the New Delhi World Cup last year, while the Indian failed to make the final in the 10m Air Pistol events, in the 25m sports pistol, Manu Bhaker finished fifth in front of her home crowd. In Beijing as well as she was unable to make the cut for the final in both her pistol events.
Her fortunes, however, started taking a turn for the good in Munich. An equipment malfunction saw Manu Bhaker drop from the pole position in the 25m sports pistol with just three series to go. But that didn't stop the Indian as she gathered herself to shoot down an Olympic quota in the 10m Air Pistol the very next day.
Manu Bhaker’s final flourish
Later on in the year, the Indian ace claimed her first-ever World Cup Finals gold with a first-place finish in the 10m Air Pistol. This is probably a reason why Manu Bhaker isn’t worried about her fluctuating form much.
“I am relaxed at home. The current situation doesn’t affect my preparation and mindset. I am continuing with my yoga sessions, meditation and things that help me stay calm and composed,” she said.
With a calm and composed head helping her through such uncertain times, it won’t be a surprise if Manu Bhaker is to come out on top of her game when shooting resumes post the pandemic.