16-year-old Manu Bhaker claims 10m pistol gold at CWG – India’s Heena Sidhu won silver while bronze went to Australia’s Elena Galiabovitch.
India’s teen shooting sensation Manu Bhaker grabbed the women’s 10m air pistol gold medal by shattering the games record while Heena Sidhu staged a stirring comeback to bag silver at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Sunday.
The 16-year-old Bhaker’s calm demeanour belied her age as she shot a record 240.9 to finish well ahead of her senior teammate Sidhu, who aggregated 234 at the Belmont Shooting Centre.
A dominant Bhaker led throughout the two stages in her maiden Commonwealth Games outing, living up to the billing.
The bronze medal went to Australia’s Elena Galiabovitch who ended with 214.9.
Bhaker was the overwhelming favourite to win the event, having bagged multiple gold medals at the 2018 ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico and the subsequent Junior World Cup in Sydney.
The event in Mexico was also a maiden appearance for the young girl from the Jhajjar district in Haryana.
Sidhu too did well to win silver after she was on the verge of elimination at one stage. She had also won a silver at the Delhi Games in 2010.
Such was India’s dominance in the air pistol event that Bhaker and Sidhu were the only two shooters left in fray for the top honours.
On expected lines, Bhaker produced some excellent shooting and notched up 10 and above scores on 14 occasions in the eight-women finals, ending with a 10.4 to finish way ahead of pack.
Entering the Games after being embroiled in a controversy over the Sports Ministry’s initial decision to refuse accreditation to her husband-cum-coach Ronak Pandit, Sidhu was off to a poor start and was staring at elimination at one stage, only to pull off a fine fightback and prove her detractors wrong.
After a series of scores of 9s, Sidhu found her bearings and shot 10-plus scores nine times to not just widen the gap but finish well ahead of the eventual bronze medallist.
There was no doubt about Bhaker — she was miles ahead and certain to emerge champion when Sidhu and Galiabovitch were tied with 195 points with four more shots left in the finals. Bhaker had tallied 201.7 points by then.
After struggling to get going, Sidhu was back in medal contention with 175.3 points, courtesy a few 10-plus scores, even as Bhaker led with 180.2 points with six shots left.
Bhaker led with 141.5 points in Stage 2 Elimination, while Sidhu was placed sixth with 134.9 points.
Bhaker set the tempo when she recorded 101.5 at the end of first stage, leaving the others to play catch up for the rest of the finals. Her concentration was unwavering and she held her nerve all through to continue her golden run.
Shooting happened to her by chance after a brush with contact sports and for someone who took to the sport just a little over two years ago, winning with such consistency would easily qualify as some achievement.
Credit: The Hindu
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