Champion shooter Manu Bhaker on Tuesday received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a government hospital in Jhajjar, Haryana, three months before the Tokyo Olympics where she will enter as one of India’s brightest medal hopes.
The 19-year-old pistol ace was administered the Covishield vaccine at the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Dhakla village.
“Along with my mother and father, today I have come to CHC Dhakla to get my first COVID-19 vaccine jab,” Bhaker said in a video she posted on Twitter.
All Olympic-bound athletes are being given priority for vaccines and age is not a factor. To stem the COVID-19 surge, the government had announced vaccines for people above 18 years of age from May 1.
Bhaker, a gold-medallist at the ISSF World Cup, Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games, urged fellow Indians to get vaccinated as the country grapples with a deadly second wave of the pandemic.
“I appeal to everyone in the country to religiously maintain COVID protocols, including maintaining social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitising and wearing masks.
“Please get yourself vaccinated, avoid crowded places in the markets and keep following the health department guidelines from time to time,” Bhaker said in the video.
Bhaker has been selected for three events in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8.
She will be fielded in both the women’s 25m pistol alongside the experienced Rahi Sarnobat, and in her pet 10m air pistol event with Yashaswini Singh Deswal.
Bhaker will also represent India in the mixed team 10m pistol along with Saurabh Chaudhary.
Earlier this month, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had announced a 15-member shooting contingent for the Tokyo Games.
To deal with the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the national body has also named two reserves in each discipline, where shooters have won quotas for the games.
Among others, fellow Olympic-bound shooter Anjum Moudgil has also got her first dose of the vaccine, a National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) source said.
As far as the national shooting team’s coaches are concerned, almost all of them, including Smaresh Jung, Suma Shirur and Deepali Deshpande, have got themselves vaccinated, according to sources.
In 2018, Bhaker became the youngest Indian shooter to clinch a gold medal at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup.
Before that, she had bagged nine medals at the National Games and a silver at the Asian Junior Championships.
In 2020, she was conferred with the Arjuna Award by the government of India for her incredible performances in the sport.