29 July 2023 | in Summer FISU World University Games
It was a dream debut for India’s Manu Bhaker on the first day of the FISU World University Games shooting competition as she won double gold in the 10m Air Pistol individual and team events at the Chengdu Shooting Sport School, on Saturday.
“It feels very, very good. I’m very impressed with the medal, as you can see,” said the 21-year-old Tokyo Olympian about her individual triumph. “An individual medal is always more valuable for you because you put so much effort in it, and it means so much to me.”
In the team event, Bhaker, Abhidnya Ashok Patil and Yashaswini Singh Deswal combined to claim India’s first medal of the Games, outscoring host China and Iran.
In the individual competition, Bhaker, sitting seventh after the preliminaries, didn’t have a blissful start in her bid to claim a second medal, but she managed to find mental strength to come from behind and overtake Hungary’s Sara Fabian, who ranked first going into the final round but ended up settling for silver.
“I enjoyed the final. At the end I got a little tired, but I’m very happy with the medal,” said Fabian, a 21-year-old who captured team bronze in the 25m Pistol at the 2021 European junior championships. “I knew the competition would be tight, but it was very exciting for me.
“This medal actually gave me a lot of strength and motivation. At the end of today’s event I was completely dead, mentally. I was really tired, but otherwise it was really exciting to have a final match with her.”
An ex martial artist, Bhaker started shooting at the age of 14, just after the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her father bought her first gun, the one that would help make her an Olympian as well, just four years later.
“Both my parents are very supportive. They made so much sacrifice and I love them both,” said the multiple World Cup gold medallist. “I’m really grateful for what they have done for me, and that made me who I am today.”
Bhaker wasn’t the only Indian shooter to secure a medal on Saturday. 2018 world champion Valarivan Elavenil claimed the 10m Air Rifle individual title, with American Mary Tucker and China’s Hang Xing rounding out the podium.
In the first final of the day, the Korean women took the title in the Air Rifle team event, with Hungary and China placing second and third.