New Delhi: One of India’s strongest Olympic medal hopes is ace shooter Manu Bhaker. She has said that preparations ‘cannot get better’ than the ongoing training-cum-competition tour of Croatia. Manu Bhaker also said she is working on her consistency ahead of the Tokyo Games.
Thirteen Olympic-bound pistol and rifle shooters are currently training in Zagreb in Croatia. They recently participated as guest invitees in the European Championships recently in Osijek. They will also compete in the ISSF World Cup, scheduled in Osijek from June 22 to July 3.
The Croatia tour was arranged after the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) realised that it was not possible to hold camps in India. So with the deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic creating carnage it decided to send the shooters abroad for training.
“The tour is very helpful. We are well looked after, our health and fitness needs are taken care of. Most importantly, we are getting to train at a very good shooting range and with some good competition as well,” Bhaker told this agency from Zagreb. “So, I believe it cannot get better, leading up to the Olympic Games,” Bhaker added.
Bhaker says she wants to live up to her own expectations. The remark can be interpreted as a burning desire to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. In an ominous sign for her challengers ahead of the Tokyo Games, the champion Indian shooter says she is wants to avoid being weighed down by expectations.
“I just want to meet my own expectations. I am not thinking about anything else but focusing on giving my best for India in the Games,” asserted Bhaker.
The 19-year-old pistol ace will enter Tokyo as one of India’s biggest medal hopes. She has won almost everything one can after a sensational start to her career.
According to the champion shooter, many of her teammates stand a chance of finishing on the podium in Tokyo. Keeping in mind the form of the Indian shooters’ form in recent years, she is not far-fetched in her thought.
“I don’t think I am the biggest medal hope… That is unfair. In our shooting team itself, I don’t see anyone who is not the biggest medal hope. Then there are world class athletes in other sports as well for example badminton, weightlifting, wrestling, archery, boxing and the like,” Bhaker pointed out.
The shooter is now trying to work on her consistency in training, which, if achieved, would reflect in competitions as well, she said. “Yes, I had good scores (in European Championship), but I feel I need to keep improving. It’s a constant process. I am working to get more consistent in training first and then it will come in competitions as well,” Bhaker informed.” I am enjoying my training and every day I have something specific to work on. So I am happy with the way things are progressing,” she added.
Bhaker has been selected for three events in the Olympics, scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8.
“I have always shot three events in all the World Cups and other competitions like World Championships. So there’s nothing different. I am just focusing on doing my best in every event and I am used to working and competing like this,” the shooter said.
Bhaker will be fielded in both the women’s 25m pistol alongside the experienced Rahi Sarnobat. In her pet 10m air pistol event she will be alongside Yashaswini Singh Deswal. She will also represent India in the mixed team 10m pistol along with Saurabh Chaudhary.
Finally, she is excited at the real possibility of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) going ahead with the Tokyo Games. It was pushed back by a year in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“We are here because the Olympics are happening… The Games are the most important in the life of an athlete. Yes, if it can, it should be held,” asserted Bhaker.