It was not so long ago that Maneesha Keer would start her day by helping her father catch fish in Bhopal’s Upper Lake. Catching and selling fish is the main source of income for Maneesha and nine other members in her family. Today, the 15-year-old is one of the top adolescent shooters in the country, and has participated in three national and two international events in the span of just three years.
It was her elder sister Soniya who spotted Manisha’s passion for rifle sports. She decided to take her to the Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy, where the shotgun trials were being conducted. It was there that Mansher Singh, the academy’s head coach and a former Olympian spotted her natural talent for the sport.
She now trains hard under Coach Mansher and has won 10 gold medals, including a gold at the Junior Shotgun Cup in Finland.
Photo source: Facebook
“I began training after which a few more shooters and I qualified for a national event. However, I couldn’t make it to the Indian team in the first attempt. Before the next national event, I trained quite hard. I would practically spend the whole day at the academy with a firm motive of making it to the Indian team. By the end of it, I was able to secure a national berth, finishing third in the ranking. We had won two gold medals in that tournament.” she said to The Times of India.
She also faced disappointment at her first International event – the U-16 World Cup in Italy. But Coach Mansher was quick to identify the technical flaws that were holding her back. He also advised her to improve her diet. “It all culminated in me winning five gold medals in the national shotgun championship in Jaipur,” she said.
The Madhya Pradesh state government is also helping her in her journey. It has funded her coaching and has borne her traveling expenses as well. She received a cash prize of Rs. 2 lakh for her medal in Finland from the MP Sports Ministry.
“I never wanted them to continue what my forefathers and I have done. I gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted. That being said, I always wanted them to have pride and honour in whatever they did. I was earning just about enough to provide for my family, so I wanted them to do things differently,” he father Kailash Keer told TOI.
Maneesha is the fourth of eight siblings. Two of her brothers are former volleyball players, while Soniya is a national level rower. Her sister Mona is training to become a fashion designer. Maneesha is continuing to move forward with her hard work. She trains for 42 hours a week. Once a daughter helping her father for their family’s survival, it won’t be surprising if we see her in India’s Olympic contingent for 2020.