Tokyo: A major malfunction in her pistol cost Indian shooting ace Manu Bhaker dearly as she lost nearly 20 minutes during her qualifications, leading to a heartbreaking exit from the women’s 10m air pistol event at the Tokyo Olympics here on Sunday.
When the technical snag — the pistol’s cocking lever broke down — happened, she was left to shoot 44 shots in 55 minutes.
When she came back to the firing point after getting the issue sorted, Manu had to complete the remaining number of shots in 36 minutes, an improbable task in any level of competition.
Once she had returned to the range, more agony awaited the 19-year-old as 4-5 minutes were lost in checking the repaired gun in the sighter (practice).
“Normally, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds and we couldn’t have claimed more time, so I had to tell Manu to start shooting as we had already lost a lot of time,” pistol coach Ronak Pandit told PTI.
Manu, along with her coach and a member of the jury, had to go to a designated area to get her pistol checked and repaired, as no repairing is allowed near the range because of safety concerns.
“55 minutes were remaining for 44 shots when the malfunction took place and when she came back after getting it sorted (the cocking lever was replaced), which we got in a record time, she was left to shoot 44 shots in 36 minutes,” Ronak, a former India shooter, said.
Needless to say, the unfortunate incident has left the young shooter “heartbroken”.
She had suffered due to technical issues in the past too, most notably during the ISSF World Cup in Munich in 2019, which offered quota places for the Tokyo Games. But, she came back strongly to grab the quota in another event of the same tournament.
“But, even with all the problems that she has faced today, an inner 10 in the last series would have taken her in the finals,” the coach added. The duration of time lost was more than enough to disturb her rhythm, after she had made an impressive start in her maiden Olympic appearance.
Earlier in the day, her father Ramkishan Bhaker as well as a National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) official, had said that the electronic trigger of Manu’s pistol had “suffered a circuit malfunction” in the middle of the second series of the qualification.
Manu returned to the firing point after getting the issue fixed but, by then, it has disturbed her momentum as she went up again, against a world-class filed comprising Olympic and world champions.