Tokyo Olympics: Shooter Manu Bhaker proves she cannot be written off
With her performance today, Manu Bhaker has proven that the 25m Pistol might not really be her strong suit, but she is no pushover either.
Manu Bhaker was the punching bag for the Indian sports fans during the first few days of the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics. India's flop show in shooting, especially in the Mixed 10m Air Pistol event, was largely attributed to her failure to handle the Olympic pressure.
While everyone knew criticisms were always going to come her way once she crumbled to the pressure, what transpired was completely different.
The 19-year-old was trolled mercilessly on social media and abused by the fans for not meeting their expectations and even hampering the medal chances of Saurabh Chaudhary in the Mixed 10m Air Pistol with her mediocre performance.
To add to it all there was a scathing attack from the owner of Swiss gun manufacturer Morini, who stated that Manu Bhaker and her coach Ronak Pandit's decision of not coming to them to repair the shooter's gun when it malfunctioned during the Women's 10m Air Pistol qualification event might have cost her the Olympic medal.
It was not a good place to be in. Certainly not when you have one more event to compete in at the Olympics.
But isn't a champion the one who rises above such criticisms, trolls and leaves everyone awestruck with their performance?
And like a true champion, Manu Bhaker today left the critics shut with an impressive show in the Women's 25m Pistol Precision stage.
Manu seemed to be in a completely different mood today; she was out at the Asaka Shooting Range with a vengeance. She had a point to prove.
While the more fancied Indian shooter in the event, Rahi Sarnobat, struggled to get going, Manu Bhaker shone bright and ensured that India does have something to cheer for.
The 19-year-old started in a fantastic fashion, shooting 97 in her first ten shots. She then backed it up yet another 97 and followed it up with a 98 to end her day at the number 5 position in the standings.
It was a spectacular performance from Manu Bhaker, considering the fact that 25m Pistol is not exactly her strong suit. In fact, she had not even earned the quota in the event but was accommodated to 'take advantage of the double-start rule'.
So naturally, once she faltered in her pet event – the 10m Air Pistol, once in Women's qualification and then in Mixed qualification stage 2, there virtually were no expectations from her in the 25m Pistol.
But, Manu Bhaker had other ideas. With her performance today, the youngster has proven that the 25m Pistol might not really be her strong suit, but she is no pushover either.
However, it is not over yet. Manu still has to compete in the Rapid Fire event tomorrow if she is to qualify for the final of 25m Pistol, and she knows it!
A medal is still a far-fetched dream. But, Manu Bhaker, with her show today, has surely redeemed herself a tiny little bit.