The Women’s 10m Air Pistol gold in this year’s ISSF World Cup belongs to 16-year old Manu Bhaker, the youngest shooter from India to win it and perhaps the third youngest in the world to achieve this feat. Rifle shooter Gagang Narang and pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat were India’s previous youngest World Cup medallist at 23 in 2006 and 2013 respectively.
Manu Bhaker fired a 10.6 last shot to clinch the gold at Guadalajara in Mexico. She was trailing by 1.7 point before the last two shots in the 24-shot final. But Manu kept her cool against Alejandra Zavala Vazquez of Mexico to win the gold with a 0.4 point margin. It was the second Air Pistol gold for India in this year’s World Cup, following the men’s title by another debutant Shahzar Rizvi.
In men’s air rifle, Ravi Kumar, who had qualified in the second place with a score of 626.9, clinched the bronze, after beating compatriot Deepak Kumar in the shoot-off. With a total of two gold and three bronze medals in the first two days, out of 12 on offer, India firmly stayed on top of the medals table.
The Haryana girl who hails from Jhajjar started shooting just two years ago. Soon after that she became national champion in three categories- Youth (U-18), Junior (U-21) and Senior. After her win Manu said, “”Before shooting I was into boxing, thang ta – Manipuri martial art. I was playing those sports because I love bashing my opponents. I really enjoy it.”
On her way to the gold she fought off competition from three Olympic medallist-Celine Goberville, Anna Korakkai and Heidi Diethelm. This is the first time that in a World Cup the women shooters has to hit 60 shots in the qualifications rather that 40 shots.
Meanwhile, another teenager, 17-year old Mehuli Ghosh clinched bronze in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle final with a score of 228.4. Her bronze-medal performance comes a year after she took the junior continental title in Asian Championship.