“Get me a dedicated physio please,” pleads Manu Bhaker after topping the sports pistol trials

Esha Singh and Manu Bhaker (Image: NRAI)

It has not been trial and error but a test of calibre and inner strength as Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh have made the cut for the Paris Olympics through four trials held in New Delhi and Bhopal. To come out tops, both Manu and Esha have handled the pressure superbly. This is a clear sign, plenty of preparation has gone in but the main job was to execute it.

When Esha Singh was on song at the Asian Games in Hangzhou last year, she was fresh and excited for the trials. Yet, when it came to these Olympic trials, it was new. She has her Dad Sachin Singh as a strong force behind her and the coaching staff, which includes Ronak Pandit.
While Manu has preferred to talk to the media, Esha has been cotton-wool wrapped by her father. “There are still two more trials for her to go,” said Sachin Singh. “Esha will speak after that,” he said. Having been a rally driver, Sachin wants to ensure Esha is in good space and is not distracted by interviews.

However, Manu has no such issues. Speaking to RevSportz just after a superb performance in the sports pistol final on Tuesday, Manu could smile when she spoke to this writer. “It has been hard but I am glad I could rise to the occasion. At first, these trials were intimidating but after four matches in sports pistol, in New Delhi and Bhopal, all I can say is I was able to keep producing good performances. Just a small request, my arm is sore. I wish the NRAI, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and OGQ (Olympic Gold Quest) will provide me a dedicated physio till the Paris Olypmpics,” pleaded Manu.

She still has two more trials to go through, like Esha, in air pistol. “I will try my best. It’s simple, each day I am shooting, I feel better. If there are more air events, I will get better. The first job was to excel in sports pistol trials, that’s done. Am happy,” said Manu.
Asked about her coaching experience with Jaspal Rana, a topic of great discussion, Manu was emotional. “Earlier, shooting was a job for me, I was not enjoying it. Now, it’s a pleasure, I am enjoying it. It has been a wonderful return to be training with my coach after I reached out to him. He shows me the way in shooting and is a mentor in life at large. I have no words to express my thanks to him. It’s my faith, I went back to Jaspal Sir, and see my results. Wow,” said Manu.

Manu Bhaker in the shooting trials (Image: NRAI)

In the men’s rapid fire pistol event, Anish Bhanwala and Vijayveer Sidhu have also sealed their Paris trips. Anish has consciously made an attempt to switch off from social media and media interactions. That’s what his personal coach, Harpreet Singh has asked him to do. “Let him just focus on shooting and do well in Paris, I don’t want any distraction for Anish,” said Harpreet. He went back to the last Olympics in Tokyo and felt too much media exposure did harm to Anish.

Vijayveer has continued to maintain a low profile but shot with great consistency. To be part of four trials has been challenging but both Anish and Vijayveer have come out with flying colours. From here till July 26, the grind will continue. What is unique is the shooters are ready for slogging it day in and day out. Nobody is complaining of fatigue.

The trials will continue till May 19 in Bhopal and there will be a selection committee meeting. Only in shotgun events, the quota place winner are sue of their ticket for Paris 2024.