4 gold, 1 bronze
No, that is not India's overall medal tally. It's just Manu Bhaker's at the 2021 Junior Shooting World Championships at Lima, Peru.
The 19-year-old entered the tournament as an overwhelming favourite to dominate the medal tally, and she has done exactly that over the past one week.
It all started with her pet event – the women's individual 10m air pistol in Lima on 1st October 2021. Having finished 3rd in the qualification round two days prior, Manu Bhaker stepped up her game in the final.
The start was not great for the Haryana girl. She started off with a total of 50.1 in her first series of five shots and then improved it to 50.6 in the second, trailing Turkey's Yilmaz Yasemin by 0.3.
However, just as the two-shot elimination round started, Bhaker rose her game. She clinched the lead at the end of the 12th shot and never looked back. It was one-way traffic till the end as she defeated fellow Indian Esha Singh by a margin of 1.3 points to win her first medal.
While this performance did prove why she is considered to be one of the best pistol shooters in the world, Manu Bhaker was hungry for more. Cut to two days later, she was out again hunting for the top spot on the podium.
The only difference – this time it was two in a single day on 3rd October 2021.
Teaming up with Sarabjot Singh in the mixed 10m pistol event, Manu Bhaker topped the qualification stage 1 with a total score of 583. The duo continued their run in the qualification stage 2, forcing their way into the gold medal match against the fellow Indian pair of Naveen and Shikha Narwal.
In a closely fought gold medal encounter, Bhaker and Singh prevailed 16-12 to walk away with the top place on the podium.
Just hours after her this Bhaker stepped into the range once again. This time for the women's 10m pistol team event.
Having teamed up with Rhythm Sangwan and Shikha Narwal, Bhaker much like the mixed event topped both the stages of qualification in the women's 10m pistol team.
The experience of Bhaker was for everyone to see as the Tokyo Olympian carried the team with some consistent shooting in a rather low-scoring affair before Narwal's 10.8 sealed the gold for India at 16-12 against Belarus.
As if the three gold medals were not enough, she followed it up with a bronze and gold more in the 25m range.
Not her strongest of suits, Manu topped the women's 25m pistol qualification stage before holding on to the bronze medal in a closely fought individual final.
This was followed by the women's team 25m pistol gold alongside Rhythm Sangwan and the 14-year-old Naamya Kapoor yesterday night.
The Tokyo Olympics was an absolute horror for Manu Bhaker, but it seems to be a thing of the past now. If this is not redemption then what is? Yes, some of you might argue this was a junior-level event with not many strong countries in action, but to bounce back the way she has done is the hallmark of a true champion.
And hopefully, Manu Bhaker will continue proving this in the years to come.