The former World No.1 took to social media in order to speak in favour of the young shooter.

India shooter Heena Sidhu has come out in defence of fellow countrywoman Manu Bhaker. This is after the 19-year-old failed to qualify for the finals in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol Qualification event at the Tokyo Olympics. There were high hopes from Bhaker before the Olympics began, as she is the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup.

Heena Sidhu pointed towards an equipment malfunction behind Manu Bhaker’s failure to book a place in the final. Reports suggest that the electronic trigger of Manu Bhaker’s pistol had a circuit malfunction. Dealing with such an issue in the middle of the qualification event certainly played a role in her overall performance. She needed to go to the testing tent with her coach and a jury member to find a replacement. This ordeal cost her a lot of time.

Speaking after the event Bhaker’s coach Ronak Pandit old CNN, “The cocking lever in her gun broke after the 16th shot. Repair cost her 15+ minutes. Given the issue, she did really well to stay in contention till the last shot. She is a fighter and will bounce back.” Pandit added that once the cocking lever broke, Bhaker couldn’t load her gun and then the circuit also began to malfunction.

How she fared

Sidhu has come out in defence of the athlete and implored the fans to appreciate the effort put in by her. Dismissing the criticism aimed at Bhaker, Seedhu hailed her determination in the face of technical snags. She mentioned that Manu Bhaker was very near ensuring qualification, despite the malfunctions to her pistol. Bhaker finished in 12th place, while her compatriot Yashaswhini Singh finished 13th.

Manu Bhaker finished just a shade outside of final eight positions. Her final score was 575 points while the eighth placed athlete from France had 577 points. As Heena pointed out, she would have qualified had the last shot been an inner 10.

Heena Sidhu is focused on the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France. She has previously participated at the 2016 Rio Olympics, therefore understands the pressures of being an Olympian and representing the country. The two-time World and Commonwealth gold medalist’s message of support will certainly inspire Manu Bhaker to perform better in the mixed team event. 

Manu Bhaker is scheduled to play the mixed team event in the 10m Air Pistol event later in the multi-sport meet in Japan. She will hope to deliver a medal in her first-ever appearance at the Olympics. 

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