On Sunday, as 16-year-old Haryana shooter Manu Bhaker won India’s first gold in shooting with a new Commonwealth Games record score of 240.9 in the women’s 10 M air pistol event at Belmont Shooting Ranges in Brisbane, Australia. The Bhaker family at Goria village near Jhajjar was busy making space for Bhaker’s latest gold medal at their ancestral home in the village. Bhaker, who won gold in the same event in last month’s ISSF World Cup in Mexico, edged out former world number one shooter Heena Sidhu in the final in Brisbane.
Bhaker took up shooting less than two years ago. “It will be exactly two years on April 24 later this month since Manu started shooting. And this gold medal is the perfect gift for us and our entire village. Initially, she started boxing before shifting her focus to skating and martial art Thang Ta. When she started shooting, we initially thought that she would get bored of it soon. But later, she asked me to get her a new air pistol worth Rs 1,40,000. She used to train at the manual 10 M range at the school and later also opted for 25 M pistol events. We still do not have a fully automatic range in Haryana and there is not a single range of 25 M events in the state. If the Haryana government can start such a range in the state, it will be the biggest gift for Manu and other shooters,” said Manu’s father Ram Krishan Bhaker, who works with a Merchant Navy firm in Chennai.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar lauded Manu Bhaker. “Manu Bhaker produced a stunning performance to end up with a total of 240.9 points to win gold. I congratulate her for bringing glory and gold to the state and the country. We are proud of our daughter,” said Khattar in a statement.
The youngster shot a record CWG score of 388 in the qualification event at Brisbane and it was Manu’s first medal at a continental games event. Manu, who started training under coach Naresh at the Universal School shooting range in the village, had created an upset in last year’s National Shooting Championship in Kerala when she broke Heena Sidhu’s previous record of 240.8 with a new record score of 242.3 in the final. The youngster would accompany her mother Sumedha Bhaker, who is a Sanskrit teacher and principal of the school, to the range in the school and train with 30 other trainees at the school range. Last year, the youngster also won silver medal in Junior Asian Championships in Japan. “Manu was born at 4 am and the same day I had my B Ed exams. I left her at home to appear for my exams. We have always encouraged her to do things which she likes to do on her own. In 2010, one day during volleyball practice before boxing, she suffered an eye injury. That was the only day I told her to stop boxing. While others national shooters train in Delhi, Manu attended the school here at the village and later trained at the school range apart from travelling back to our home in Charkhi Dadri. Today’s gold medal is a reward for all the hard work and an inspiration to all the girls in Haryana,” said 39-year-old Sumedha Bhaker.
In Mexico, Manu had edged out three-time ISSF World Cup gold medallist Alejandra Zavala of Mexico in the final. The youngster had finished second in the 10 M Air Pistol in the selection trials series for the selection for Commonwealth Games and fifth in 25 M Pistol selection trails held in January early this year. “Haryana shooters dominated the pistol events in last year nationals and Manu’s gold medal has shown the dominance of the shooters from Haryana. We have revamped the 10 M range according to international standards at Rai Sports School with a cost of Rs 7.74 crore and it will be inaugurated soon. Yes, there is no 25 M or 50 M range but we will make plan to build those ranges too,” said Jagdeep Singh, director, sports and youth affairs department, Haryana.
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