The Asian games recently concluded in Jakarta last month. While India showed its excellence and dominance in a number of sports, there were sports that came back empty handed from the games. One of them was gymnastics. The team selected for the Games was definitely one of the strongest on the men’s and women’s side but things did not seem to run as smooth as expected. However, the gymnasts showed great sportsmanship and fought their way to the end.
The competition started with the men’s qualifications where the country’s biggest medal hope, Rakesh Patra performed his pet event, the Rings. After a fabulous routine with high difficulty he took a few extra steps on the dismount costing him a place in the event final. He scored a 13.90 for the effort. ( Video ) A few more faults from the rest of the team meant they narrowly missed from getting selected into the team finals, where the top eight teams battle for medals. Yogeshwar Singh gave the Indian men their best allround finish with a score of 75.950 finishing in 16th place.
The Indian men were continually assisted throughout the competition by the coaches and managers. The coach with them on the floor during the competition was Ashwini Samantarey, who is one of the head coaches for the Indian Navy section of the Services Team and also happens to be the coach of Rakesh Patra.
Over on the women’s side, the qualifications proved to be quite successful. The women started on vault where, Aruna Reddy and Pranati Nayak delivered solid vaults to qualify into the event finals immediately. Dipa Karmakar stumbled on both vaults while still qualifying into the final, but a two per country rule for qualification meant she was disqualified from the final. (Dipa’s Vault Video) Her turn came on beam when a sturdy performance under pressure gave her a spot into the beam final. The team performed well across the events to land them a sport into the team finals the following day. Unfortunately, Dipa withdrew from the team final event due to some pain in her knee, but the team still managed a 7th place finish in the finals.
The vault final did not go as planned for the Indian women as both Aruna and Pranati faltered on their respective vaults and were unable to win medal. Aruna made an uncharacteristic mistake on her first vault which cost her a medal as she finished with only a 12.775 versus the 13.649 she scored at the World Cup in Melbourne a few months ago. (Arun’s Vault Video) Pranati Nayak made mistakes on both vaults and was unable to land them, scoring a total of 12.650. During the beam final, Dipa once again delivered a strong performance but landing just outside the podium in 4th place with a 12.50. (Dipa’s Beam Video)
Throughout the ups and downs, the Indian women fought through the competition under the guidance of Bishweshwar Nandi, the coach of Dipa Karmakar and also the head coach for the Indian women.
There was an Indian representation for judging at the Asian Games as well in the form of Deepak Kabra and Pravin Dhage. Both are well known Indian judges and often judge at international competitions in the artistic gymnastics discipline. In Jakarta, Pravin Dhage judged the men’s competition as an execution judge while Deepak Kabra was a category 2 judge on the men’s side, sitting as one of the two difficulty judges on High Bar.
Although the gymnastics contingent did not send a rhythmic gymnastics team to the Games, the rhythmic side was represented by two judges from the country. Akshata Shete and Kshipra Joshi were both rhythmic gymnasts who competed for India multiple times and are now coaches and judges in the sport.
We recognize the effort and resilience of the gymnasts, judges and coaches despite the fact that gymnastics did not win a medal for India at the Games, it was a team effort and we hope to only learn and move forward from the experience.
Written by Aditi Gandhi