NEW DELHI: Manu Bhaker (Universal Sr. Secondary School, Jhajjar, Haryana) came up a stunning performance in the 10M Air Pistol event for girls breaking two junior national records during the course of the day at the first Khelo India School Games. That earned Manu a well-deserved gold at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Ranges.
Manu also led a clean sweep by Haryana girls who dominated the podium by claiming the top three positions. Haryana’s domination was emphasised by the presence of five shooters from the state from amongst the eighth finalists.
In the boys event, UP’s Saurabh Choudhary (UP Board, Allahabad) claimed gold in a nail biting finish that went down to the final shot after he had frittered away a good early lead.
In the qualification round, Manu broke the three-year-old junior national record of 385 set by Malaika Goel in 2013. The Jhajjar-based shooter, Manu fired a score of 387 that included 13 shots with scores of 10 or above.
In the finals, she maintained her fine form right from the start with the first set of five shots. In fact, she started the finals round with a near-perfect score of 10.8. Over a span of 24 shots in the finals, Manu hit the centre of the target 12 times for scores of 10 or above.
Behind Manu, was her Haryana teammate Anjali Choudhary (Rising Sun Public School, Karnal) and she shot 234.7 to claim silver. Anjali qualified in fourth place with a score of 379. Tanu Rawal (Rising Sun Public School, Karnal) claimed bronze with a score of 214.8 after qualifying in eighth place with a score of 373.
The finals of the boys’ event turned out to be a gripping affair after Saurabh lost his healthy lead of 2.1 points. That allowed Vijayveer Sidhu (Government Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh) to tie the scores at 230.1 after 23 shots in the finals. While Saurabh struggled to find the bullseye, Vijayveer consistently scored 10 or above from the 15th shot onwards.
With the fate of the gold medal hanging by a slender margin of one shot, Saurabh, who has qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympics and Junior World Cups, relied on his experience to calm his nerves to fire 10 with his 24th shot, while Vijayveer could only manage 9.7. That was enough to ensure gold for the UP shooter by a mere 0.3 points.
Girls: 10M Air Pistol
1. Manu Bhaker 241.1 New National Record in junior girls finals (387 New National Record in qualifying, 1st) Haryana 2. Anjali Choudhary 234.7 (380, 2nd), Haryana 3. Tanu Rawal 214.8 (373, 8th), Haryana
Boys: 10M Air Pistol
1. Saurabh Choudhary 240.1 (585,1st) U.P. 2. Vijayveer Sidhu 239.8 (565, 8th) Chandigarh 3. Arjun Cheema 217.3 (574, 2nd)