Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Pranati Nayak, India’s only gymnast, ready to challenge the odds

Tokyo - Pranati Nayak

Pranati Nayak, ill-prepared for the Olympics, will have the task of upholding the legacy of Dipa Karmakar.
Image credit: photo provided

Calcutta: The gymnastics arena of the Olympics was out of the reach of Indian athletes until Dipa Karmakar, a spirited client from the northeastern state of Tripura, changed the perception with a fourth place finish at Rio 2016. That will be left to Pranati Nayak, the Indian’s only entry into gymnastics at Tokyo 2020, to continue the mantle – although the odds are stacked against her.

As unbelievable as it sounds, but all the 26-year-old had in preparation was a two-week training session – put together in a bio-bubble for her by officials at the Indian Sport Authority ( SAI) in Kolkata after the Confirmation came on June 29 that Pranati made the cut on a continental quota. Nayak was the reserve behind a Sri Lankan gymnast on the Asian quota and had to wait until the last minute to get on the list.

A resident of a remote village of Pingla in the district of Medinipur, she had been based in Calcutta since May when it emerged that the Bengal gymnast had a chance to fulfill her Olympic dream – training at local clubs every time. possible as India was reeling from the second wave of the covid19 pandemic.

“ Lockdown across the country for almost a year and a half has totally derailed my plans as I come from a village where facilities like an uneven bar or a safe just don’t exist. I improvised a few routines at home for over a year to stay in shape and keep my weight in check, ” said Pranati. Gulf News during an exclusive telephone interview before leaving for New Delhi. She will be part of the first group of the Indian contingent which is due to leave for Tokyo on Saturday July 17th.

It was in 2019 that Pranati stood out with a bronze medal at the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championship, while her last international exhibition at a meeting in Germany at the end of 2019, where she underlined her potential with a total of 45.6 points.

“To be honest, I was amazed to hear that I was going to the Games. I hadn’t had an international exhibition since 2019 and had been home for over a year. Even the Asian Gymnastics Championships in China in May were canceled. In the midst of all the challenges, I had lost all confidence in myself. There was a time when my trainer Lakshman Sharma, who had been teaching online lessons for me, consoled me by saying that it’s not the end of this world if you can’t make it to the Olympics because you still have the world championships and the Asia Games next year, ” she recalls.

Did she choose the brain of Dipa, who had failed to clinch a medal in Rio but had created enough waves with the dangerous “Produnova” jump? “Of course she advised me to take care of the little details like the music for the floor exercises,” said Pranati, who will be playing a Bollywood act ‘Masallah, Masallah’ from the movie Ek Tha Tiger – a Salman Khan starrer – like music.

“My goal will be to get my best score despite all the limitations. My father, Sumanta Nayak, had made immense sacrifices for this moment and I would like to make the family proud, ” said Pranati, who will perform floor exercises, uneven bars, beam and jump in the multi-purpose team. as well as in individual event.

A particular gymnast whom she idolizes? Yes, it’s Simone Biles. I watched his workout video etc. said the soft-spoken Pranati. Biles, the Diva of modern gymnastics, will also be one of the competitors she will face!

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