Pranati eyeing good show for Olympic qualification

Last Updated : 01 January 2020, 12:00 IST

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Pranati Nayak's bronze-medal winning feat at the Asian Championship has fuelled her Olympic dreams and the Indian gymnast says she will now look to put up a good show at the World Championship to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The 24-year-old Indian clinched the bronze in vault event with a score of 13.384 at the Senior Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia last week.

It was a culmination of years of hard work for Pranati, who had qualified for the finals of Asian Games last year only to finish eighth in the vault event.

"I have been qualifying in the finals but I was not able to win any medal. So it gives me a lot of happiness to clinch this medal after such near misses," Pranati told PTI in an interview.

"In the final, I didn't go for the 720 vaults which I had done at Asian Games, I did Tsukahara 360. The girl who was in the third position had less difficulty level than me. I gave my best and it got me a better score than her and I won the medal."

Pranati said she will now focus on her training to be in the best shape for the World Championship -- which is also an Olympic qualifier -- in Stuttgart, Germany from October 4 to 13.

A good performance can give Pranati her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics even though the road ahead will be a difficult one.

Qualification for the Olympics is either on the basis of a cut-off point at the World Championships or aggregate of scores achieved over the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series but Pranati has not participated in any of the World Cups so far.

"All the World Cups are over now, I couldn't go for them, sometimes teams were also not sent. So now the last chance is World Championship, that is the only way to qualify for Olympics and I will have to come up with a score of 49-50 in total from all four apparatus," said Pranati, who scored 45.350 in the women's team final in Mongolia.

"I will concentrate on vault. I do better in the vault then other apparatus. If I get 11.50 in another apparatus, I get more than 13 in the vault. So I will try a higher difficulty score of around 5.4 and also try the Tsukahara 540 and Tsukahara 720 during my training," she said.

Former SAI coach Minara Begum, who has trained Pranati since her childhood days, recounts how she took an eight-year-old girl under her wings in 2003.

"When she was 8 years old, she had come to me in Kolkata. She initially started staying at Salt Lake Stadium but it was difficult managing everything, so I arranged for her stay at the SAI hostel for a year. I requested a lot of people and they helped," recalls Minara, who retired from SAI in February.

Slowly, results started showing as Pranati won a medal in sub-junior level in the floor exercise in 2004. Four years later, she got the fourth position in the vault and fifth in balance beam at the Children Asia in Yakutia, Russia.

"Her performance in the 2008 event helped her cause and since then she has been staying at the hostel in Kolkata," Minara added.

Pranati, currently an Indian Railways employee, also participated at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games where she made the all-around finals. In 2017 Asian Championship in Bangkok, she finished fourth in vault and fifth in the balance beam.

But it was the 8th-place finish at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games and the sixth place at the Melbourne World Cup which gave her confidence that she can perform at the world stage.

Minara, who also traveled with Pranati to Mongolia, now wants her ward to focus on the World Championship.

"This medal is a big boost. The camp for World Championship will now start and so she will look to put up some good score and qualify for Olympics. She is good in the vault but will also have to concentrate on the other three apparatus. She will have to target a score of 50 to qualify."

Published 26 June 2019, 12:36 IST

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