Indian ace gymnast Pranati Nayak who clinched the bronze medal in vault at the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2019 is all set to make her Olympic Games debut in Tokyo later this year. Nayak qualified for the Olympics through continental quota.
The 26-year-old gymnast was the second reserve participant following Sri Lanka’s Elpitiya Badalge Dona Milka Geh for the Asian quota. She fulfilled her Summer Games qualification criteria when the 9th Senior Asian Championships got cancelled due to the rising COVID-19 cases all around the globe. The event was scheduled to start on May 29 in Hangzhou, China.
Delighted with the news of her qualification the West Bengal born gymnast could not hide her excitement. “I was very disappointed when I couldn’t achieve the qualifying score during the 2019 World Championship and with the pandemic cancelling all events, I never imagined that I will be able to realise this dream of going to the Olympics,” Pranati told PTI.
“I am now waiting for the official communication from the Asian or world body regarding the same,” she added.
Pranati learned the ropes under her long time coach Minara Begum who has stepped aside from the Sports Authority of India in 2019. However, she was also very happy for her student as it was a moment of pride for her as well.
“She retained her ranking points that she had achieved after competing at the Asian event in Mongolia and the world championship in Germany and got the Asian quota after the China event was cancelled,” Begum said.
“I am extremely delighted for her,” she added.
The 26-year-old gave a good account of herself at the Asian Championship winning Bronze but she failed to replicate that performance at the 2019 World Championships in Germany.
“I didn’t do well in beam and it affected my score at the world championship. I was heart broken,” said Pranati. Currently coached by SAI coach Lakhan Manohar Sharma for the past two years she has shown great signs of improvement and will hopefully produce some great results at Tokyo as well.
The ace gymnast tallied 45.832 at the world championships after scoring 14.200 in the vault, 11.133 in floor exercise, 10.566 in bar and 9.933 in the beam. She will look to assess her performances and take it a few notches higher at the Summer Games.
When quizzed whether she is still in the Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), Pranati added, “I was for a year and a half till the 2018 Asian Games. Now that I have qualified, I hope I am back in the scheme.”
“I want to train hard in the next few months and put up a good show at Olympics,” she concluded.
While Dipak Karmakar did impress a lot of Indian supporters at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Pranati should look to better that record and secure a maiden podium for the country in Gymnastics.