Before 2018 Melbourne World cup I participated in Hong Kong International Gymnastics Championship where I won the AA gold. I also won the rings event with a score of 14.250. At this competition I performed my full rings difficulty. If we compare this score to the Commonwealth Games then I have a 100 percent chance to win a medal for the country. – Rakesh Kumar Patra
Rakesh Kumar Patra is an Indian Gymnast who has participated in World Championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and many other international competitions. He recently participated at the Melbourne World Cup from the 21st to the 25th of February. He stood 4th in the Rings final and 7th in the Parallel Bars Final, which is the best ever finish for an Indian male gymnast in any world cup event. He has a very good chance to win a Medal for India in the coming Commonwealth Games. We asked him about his recent performance and what are his future plans.
IG : Tell us about your recent performance at the Melbourne World Cup.
RP : The Melbourne World Cup was for Apparatus Specialists only, and Ashish Kumar, Pranati Nayak and Aruna Reddy and I were selected to represent India. It was a good opportunity to see where we stand on the world stage before the upcoming Commonwealth Games. I competed on Rings and Parallel Bars, Ashish performed on Floor and Vault, Pranati on Vault and Beam and Aruna on Vault And Floor. At the competition, China and Japan also competed but since they will not compete at the Commonwealth Games, it gives me a good chance to bring home a medal on Rings. My performance on the Parallel Bars was also good but a slight error on my Tipplet at and Healy, brought me down to the 7th rank in the finals.
IG : You were close to a historic medal win, what you think cost you the medal?
RP : I was not able to compete my full difficulty because of a fever I was running the morning of the competition, and on the flight to Melbourne. Reaching Melbourne at midnight and competing the next evening and the five-hour time difference between India and Australia became very exhausting. After reaching we did not get time for podium training and directly competed in the arena. I would have done better if I had podium training. I performed a routine with a difficulty of 5.4 and I am capable of competing a routine of 5.9. I decreased the difficulty of my dismount and didn’t compete my Azarian to Swallow combination which would boost my difficulty. But this competition gave me the confidence to perform better and give India its first international medal on Rings at the Gold Coast Games.
IG : Aruna Reddy won bronze on Vault before you performed on Rings. How did you feel about her win? Did it help you with your performance?
RP : It was very motivating and made me proud to see India win its first World Cup medal. I was nervous for my routine but also confident that I would do my routine the best way I can. But unfortunately I had a fever and couldn’t perform the way I wanted to.
IG : What was your reaction after your score was announced for your Rings performance?
RP : I was expecting a slightly higher score because in my opinion it was better than the qualification routine. I think I lost a little in the swing to handstand where I couldn’t hold for 2 seconds costing me 0.3 deduction. When I came down my coach explained to me my errors. It was a very good experience leading up to the Commonwealth Games. We are now working on these things and hopefully I compete the best routine in Gold Coast.
IG : What are your thoughts about Ashish Kumar’s performance?
RP : Ashish Kumar is the one who actually started all this by winning two medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Now he is doing very well. He just needs to do what he does best. I’m sure he also has a good chance to win another medal for India at these Commonwealth Games.
IG : What was your last International Competition before Melbourne World Cup?
RP : Before this World cup I participated in Hong Kong International Gymnastics Championship where I won the AA gold. I also won the rings event with a score of 14.250. At this competition I performed my full rings difficulty. If we compare this score to the Commonwealth Games then I have a 100 percent chance to win a medal for the country. Before this I also participated at the 2017 Asian Championship where I was the only Indian who qualified to the event final on Rings with the score of 14.000. Here top gymnastics nations like Japan, China and Korea also competed, which made it very challenging. I feel that with such a performance I can surely give my country a Commonwealth Medal. I qualified in eighth place. In the finals I did the double straight full twist dismount for the very first time in competition but unfortunately I over rotated and touched my hand to the floor costing me a 0.3 deduction, otherwise I could have won a medal there.
IG : How was your training experience in China?
RP : What I have observed is that they focus more on rehabilitation. The top class training facilities are equipped with modern infrastructure and they analyze every skill, how much they have to train, how much rehab they need, the diet plan and muscle growth, what level they are and what they need to do to up their level. We don’t see this anywhere in India. We need such facilities in India if we want to win medals at the Olympics. I think it will take India another 5-10 years to reach to that kind of level.
IG : Tell us about the Go Sports Foundation and how they are helping you?
RP : Go Sports is helping me a lot. They are helping me with my nutrition. I went to China and Hong kong, participated in the competitions there and it would not have been possible without their support. We also had great support from all the coaches in Hong Kong, they didn’t charge us and helped us with the skills and preparation. Even in China I was training with World and Asian champions. So it was a very good learning experience and it also motivated me to do even better.
IG : Is your current focus on Rings or Parallel Bars?
RP : I am currently focusing on both those events. I participated in both 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth and Asian games. Unfortunately because of some small errors I was the first reserve for rings in 2014. But this time I don’t want to lose this chance. I have worked really hard for this and I can see there is a good chance to win a medal for my country.
IG : What skills are you working on to increase your difficulty on Rings and Parallel Bars?
RP : This World Cup as I said, I couldn’t compete my full difficulty. In my full routine I will compete a D dismount compared to the C, I did at the World Cup and I am adding the Azarian to Swallow instead of the Front Up Rise to Swallow. These two skills will boost my difficulty to 5.9 compared to 5.4 from the World Cup. I have done it at the Hong Kong International Gymnastics competition in January this year which went really well and I scored 14.250 which is much higher than the 13.7 World Cup score.
IG : Do you know your competition who will compete at the Commonwealth Games?
RP : In my opinion Courtney Tulloch who is the European Silver Medalist on Rings and Nile Wilson from England have very good routine on Rings. But as you know it all comes down to how you perform on that day. Anything can happen.
IG : What’s your future plan ?
RP : My first target is the Commonwealth Games. I have a very good chance to win a medal. I wish to perform the best routine of my life. The IOA haven’t declared the team but I’m sure everything will be decided keeping the medal potential in mind. After that we have Asian Games and World Championships and then next year World Championships and lastly the Tokyo Olympics 2020. We are planning where and what we need to work on. How we can go from World Cup Finals to an Olympic medal. What we should add to my routine.
We wish Rakesh Patra the very best in hai preparation for the Games and we as a country will root for our Muscle Man, to bring home the very first medal on the Rings!