Manu Bhaker created history by becoming the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup.
The 16-year-old claimed gold in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol at the World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sunday.
Manu, who started shooting just two years ago, scored 237.5 in the finals to beat Mexico’s 33-year-old Alejandra Zavala Vazquez in the finals of her first ever World Cup.
Before the last shot, Manu was 1.4 point behind Alejandra. Manu held her nerves to shoot a 10.6 while Alejandra could only manage a 8.8 to give away the gold to Manu.
Earlier, Manu’s shot a qualification score of 572 to set a junior world record.
Yashaswini Singh Deswal placed fourth, while Mahima Turhi Agrawal shot 568 and missed the finals by two points in a very strong field which included Rio Olympic gold medallist Anna Korakaki, London Olympic silver medallist Celine Goberville, and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Heidi Gerber.
For someone who took to shooting just a little over two years ago, winning a gold medal in her first World Cup would easily qualify as some achievement.
Reacting after winning the medal, Manu Bhaker said, “ I am extremely happy at winning gold, especially as this is my first World Cup. I look forward to perform even better in upcoming competitions.”
Asked about her penchant for winning medals with record-breaking feats, the unassuming pistol shooter said, “It just happens. I don’t think about them. At times I don’t even know what the records are.”
“I am grateful to all my coaches for their advice and the hours they have put in to hone my technique,” Manu added.
Last December, Manu became the new national champion in women’s air pistol — outclassing the highly experienced Heena Sidhu — at the National Shooting Championship in Thiruvanthapuram where she also broke Heena’s long-standing national record. Infact, Manu won gold medals with new national records in all three categories — youth, junior and senior — of women’s air pistol. A month later, at the Khelo India School Games, Manu once again won the gold and set two junior national records.
Ravi Kumar wins air rifle bronze
In Men’s 10m 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.
It was a relief for Ravi who had made the final thrice last year in the World Cups, including the World Cup Final, but had failed to bag a medal.
Hungary’s Istvan Peni took the gold with a final shot of 10.6 after chasing Austria’s Alexander Schmiri, who took silver, for most part of the final.
Women’s 10m Air Pistol: 1. Manu Bhaker (India) 237.5 (572); 2. Alejandra Zavala Vazquez (Mexico) 237.1 (579); 3. Celine Goberville (France) 217.0 (575); 4. Yashaswini Singh Deswal (India) 196.1 (571); 13. Mahima Tuhi Agrawal (India) 568.
Men’s 10m Air Rifle: 1. Istvan Peni (Hungary) 249.5 (625.5); 2. Alexander Schmirl (Austria) 248.7 (627.1); 3. Ravi Kumar (India) 226.4 (626.9); 4. Deepak Kumar (India) 205.8 (625.2); 20. Arjun Babuta (India) 619.6.