New Delhi: Are two months of competitive training enough for an Olympics preparation? Even the world’s best would say ‘NO’. Despite that, India’s lone gymnast at Tokyo Olympics, Pranati Nayak gave her best, performed against the best in the world and yet received flak for not attempting a second Vault that would have probably taken her close to final round qualification.
“One needs to understand the situation,” Pranati’s coach Lakhan Manohar Sharma told The Lateralz upon their arrival in the Capital. “Being a sport which is very injury-prone, it takes time for any gymnast to get used to and that too after a year of no competitive training. We got around 54-55 days before Tokyo Olympics,” Sharma explained.
India’s only Olympic gymnast after Dipa Karmakar, Pranati finished in the bottom half of the women’s artistic gymnastics qualifying round last week. And ever since the news broke out that the Indian chose not to attempt the second Vault, criticism emerged why she didn’t do it – especially from Pranati’s childhood coach Minara Begum.
Wasn’t Pranati serious? Was it her coach’s decision or she only went to Tokyo only for a photo shoot? “Nobody saw Pranati’s beam and everybody went after why Pranati didn’t attempt the Vault event? Vault is the most dangerous in event gymnastics, one small mistake and you fracture your leg or ankle. There were times when Pranati used to cry in between raining but she encouraged herself to give her best shot in Tokyo despite a short time span,” added Sharma.
The 26-year-old Bengali girl scored 13.466 in Vault with a difficulty of 5.000 and execution of 8.466. She didn’t take the second Vault — a Handspring Forward Salto 360-degree turn. Pranati scored 42.565 over the four categories, finishing at 29th spot.
Pranati was informed about her qualification in April end. With COVID-19 induced lockdown at that time in the state, Pranati and her coach had to request the state government to allow them to train at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Kolkata center for training.
After opening up on May 5, the duo along with other staff had to undergo mandatory four-day quarantine before starting full-fledgedly around May 10. “Coming to hard training after a long gap, Pranati suffered a slight knee injury during training at SAI Kolkata. In Tokyo, while training for the Vault she landed awkwardly and felt a knee jerk at the same place,” Sharma added.
“Despite that, she didn’t give up and performed one Vault event. Already injured, we didn’t take the risk before she has the whole career left in her ahead. Being a coach I can’t afford to push my ward into danger,” concluded Sharma.