Gymnast Pranati Nayak, who is hoping to make a mark at the Tokyo Olympics, received a boost when Sports Authority of India (SAI) Eastern Regional Centre here gave her a special permission to practice. This comes amid strict restrictions in the state, which finds sport facilities shut.
KOLKATA: Gymnast Pranati Nayak, who is hoping to make a mark at the Tokyo Olympics, received a boost when Sports Authority of India (SAI) Eastern Regional Centre here gave her a special permission to practice. This comes amid strict restrictions in the state, which finds sport facilities shut.
“I am the only athlete now staying in the hostel inside the campus,” Pranati told TOI on Tuesday. SAI is also providing her with all necessary support. “I have been provided with a masseur and my physiotherapist madam is also here along with my coach Lakhan Sharma,” she added.
The 26-year-old from Bengal became eligible to compete at the Tokyo Olympics after securing an Asian continental quota place for the Games following the cancellation of the 9th Senior Asian Championships, which was scheduled to be held from May 29 to June 1 in Hangzhou, China, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nayak was the second reserve behind Sri Lanka’s Elpitiya Badalge Dona Milka Geh and both will now compete in the Olympics.
The gymnast, who trains at the SAI Kolkata centre, was out of practice since the centre mostly remained closed due to the pandemic. She could train for barely two weeks last year when SAI had opened before closing down again with the advent of the second wave.
Pranati trained under former SAI coach Minara Begum for a long time but after the latter’s retirement in 2019, she came under the tutelage of Sharma.
“With no practice facilities available, I returned home to Midnapore. There I took online training lessons from my coach,” the Railways employee said.
Pranati’s father Sumanta, who used to be a bus driver in the state transport service, tried to provide all help to his second daughter. However, with no apparatus, it was extremely difficult to prepare for the Olympics. “I put up a rope in my terrace to do basic drills and also converted storage boxes and wooden stools at home into training props,” Pranati said, revealing that she had gained some weight having home-made food during that time.
“I returned to the city last December and stayed at different relatives’ places then. Then I started training at various local clubs as arranged by sir (coach),” she said. “I am now back to my usual 46-47 kg weight and feeling quite fresh,” she said.
Pranati still remembers staying up till midnight to watch her senior Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian gymnast to take part in Olympics, at Rio in 2016. “It was so thrilling to see her perform,” she recalled.
Vault is Pranati’s favourite item as she aims to make at least the final in Tokyo. However, she will not be trying Dipa’s trademark Produnova vault. Instead, handspring forward 540 and Tsukahara back 720 have been her reliable routines. “I will try whatever my sir will tell me,” she said, hoping to get into TOPS soon.
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