Manu Bhaker became a shooting sensation after winning two gold medals at the 2018 ISSF World Cup. The teenager then followed it up with a gold in women’s 10m air pistol event at the Gold Coast Games and Youth Olympics. The 16-year-old Haryana shooter has left her mark in almost all the top events this year and is now focused on cementing a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games.
Q. With a victory in almost every tournament, how do you keep yourself motivated to do better than before and not remain contained?
A. Every event is different and it gives a new experience and an opportunity to do something different and better. So I try to put more efforts to do bring out a better performance.
Q. With more wins come more expectations. Do you feel any medal pressure before events?
A. The medal is not always on my mind. I only try to put a good and constant performance. People always expect from us, it is not new, but as an individual if we will think of the expectations then it will definitely build pressure on us. So it’s better to not think about it.
Q. In Asian Games, you set a record in the qualification round but stood 6th in the medal round. What went wrong there?
A. I did good in the qualifications but in finals everything starts from zero. The previous scores don’t matter. Sometimes it’s also about luck and guts. It’s not always that you win a medal. There are eight players in finals but only three get the medal.
Q. When you took up shooting, did you think of coming so far and doing so well?
A. I love trying hands at different sports. I have earlier been in boxing and karate. So similarly, I tried shooting. I didn’t idolise anyone before taking it up and didn’t think of a long-term career in it. I did boxing also for just a year and half and same happened with karate. I never continue anything for long. But I think I’ll remain in shooting for a long, long time.
Q. Shooting is a very expensive sport. Did you face any difficulty when you started off?
A. I had family support from the start, so I didn’t face any financial difficulty as such. My parents have always tried to provide me with the best.
Q. Youngsters have been doing exceptionally well in shooting lately. There are you, then Esha, Saurabh, Shradul and others. How do you feel about that?
A. Youngest are doing so well because they do not have much pressure about score or to maintain their performance. They go there and just play with a fresh mind, without pressure expectations. What they are doing is great.
Q. What will be your next target now?
A. I only focus on the upcoming tournament so my target now is World Cup which also serves as Olympic qualifiers.