Today, both during qualification and final of the mixed competition, she was struggling to control her feelings. She was taking more time between shots and cancelled far too many shots during qualification.
Struggling for rhythm, the Jhajjar girl was either rushing her shots or taking too much time. It had the potential of ruining Saurabh Chaudhary’s rhythm, too, as he too had to delay his shots. But luckily, no harm was done as the duo won India’s third and final gold as the ISSF World Cup drew to a close.
Manu and Saurabh scored 483.4 points to win gold, 5.7 points ahead of the Chinese pair of Jiang Ranxin and Zhang Bowen, who finished second with 477.7 points. Bronze was won by the Korean pair of Kim Minjung and Park Daehun, who scored 418.8.
The Indians had equalled the world record in qualification with a combined total of 778 points.
The Indian pair had a relatively average start to the final. After the first series of 10 shots — five each by the pair — they were second, 1.3 points behind the Korean team. There was no change in the next series.
But the Indians shaved the lead in the third series to 0.8 of a point, and went into the lead in the elimination rounds. Incredibly, the pair registered only three shots that were below 10 points in the final 14 shots in the final.
Gold brought relief to Manu, who was in tears after she missed the opportunity to win an Olympics quota in the 25m pistol event, in which she finished fifth. She failed to qualify for the 10m pistol final.
“It wasn’t a big relief but I felt some satisfaction,” Manu told the media after ending her gold drought at the World Cup. “Actually, I did not perform well in the earlier competitions but now I have won medal so it is OK. After every bad performance you hope that next time it will get better and work hard.”
Manu said that she had to cancel her shots a number of times because she did not want to register a bad score. Chaudhary, luckily, remained unfazed by the wait. “I was trying not to cancel my shots because that would mean lesser time for the next shooter. But when I couldn’t, I was cancelling my shots because it is always better to cancel rather than register a bad shot,” she said.
Eyebrows were raised when the duo was not paired at the Changwon World Championships last year. Chaudhary was selected to shoot in the junior competition only. Today was the first time they were shooting together in a senior competition. And early evidence suggests that they are here to stay.
“We have a good understanding. It feels good to shoot together. His mindset is a lot different than mine when it comes to shooting,” Manu said of Chaudhary. “He never loses hope, he is always positive and says ‘we can do it’. He doesn’t say much.”
“She is a good shooter and one can learn a lot from her,” said Chaudhary, who turns 17 in May.