RID­ING HIGH ON THE VAULT­ING HORSE

Aruna Budda Reddy is the new un­der­dog on the block, who made his­tory by bring­ing home the first medal from the Gymnastics World Cup 2018. She spills the beans on her suc­cess and fu­ture plans

Society - - CONTENTS - By Nan­dini R Penna

Aruna Reddy is the new un­der­dog on the block, who made his­tory by bring­ing home In­dia’s first medal from the Gymnastics World Cup 2018

Mak­ing a name in a land like In­dia, where the likes of Sa­nia Mirza, Saina Ne­hwal and P V Sindhu have earned global plau­dits with their trail­blaz­ing achieve­ments, is no mean feat for any fe­male sportsper­son. More­over, to make a name in a sport whose pop­u­lar­ity in In­dia rose only af­ter Dipa Kar­makar be­came a house­hold name three years ago. For the unini­ti­ated, she was the first In­dian gym­nast to com­pete in the Rio Olympics 2016. And now, Aruna Budda Reddy has fol­lowed suit and carved a niche for gymnastics in the coun­try af­ter her his­toric out­ing at the Gymnastics World Cup this year. She not only hogged the lime­light Down Un­der, where the World Cup was held, but re­turned to the home­land as the first In­dian

to have won a medal at the Gymnastics World Cup. Aruna won a bronze medal in the women’s vault at the 16-na­tion premier event and be­came the toast of the na­tion overnight for her bril­liant show­ing at the games. Adding to her achieve­ment is the fact that she be­longs to a lower mid­dle class fam­ily. And one can sense her hum­ble up­bring­ing in her zeal to keep do­ing bet­ter. “I am aware that it was an epoch-mak­ing show­ing, But, I feel that this is from where I have to progress fur­ther if I have to demon­strate my con­sis­tency. I hope this will pro­vide the im­pe­tus for me to soar fur­ther,” says the 22-year-old Hy­der­abadi, who has etched her name in In­dia’s sports folk­lore. Giv­ing way to her emo­tions af­ter the win, Aruna ded­i­cated the medal to her late fa­ther, B Narayana Reddy, who in­tro­duced gymnastics to her when she was barely five years old. She started do­ing gymnastics at a time when the sport was not even known in the coun­try. Along with her fa­ther, she also fondly re­mem­bered her per­sonal coach N Brij Kishore, who shaped her ca­reer in the sport. “While ac­cept­ing the medal, I missed Brij sir as he was un­der­go­ing treat­ment for can­cer and could not make it for the World Cup. But I knew that he, like all my fam­ily mem­bers, was pray­ing for my suc­cess. I am happy that I could bring home the medal. Ac­tu­ally, liv­ing up to their ex­pec­ta­tions has brought me big­ger joy than be­ing the first In­dian to have a podium fin­ish in the World Cup,” she ex­plains in a mat­ter-of-fact tone. An ap­plaud­able qual­ity of Aruna is that she is aware of her lim­i­ta­tions and con­tin­ues to work on her strengths and weak­nesses for up­com­ing cham­pi­onships. “For me, win­ning and bring­ing lau­rels to the coun­try from in­ter­na­tional cham­pi­onships like Asian Games and Olympics are paramount right now. I am try­ing to hone my tal­ent fur­ther so that I can de­liver on those two plat­forms, which is the dream of every sportsper­son,” in­forms the shy girl, who was pleas­antly sur­prised to be greeted by the coun­try’s who’s who af­ter her vic­tory at the World Cup. When we met her, the ra­di­ance on her face sort of cam­ou­flaged the strug­gle and pain she has un­der­gone dur­ing her train­ing. De­spite be­long­ing to a fam­ily with a mea­gre in­come and spe­cial­is­ing in a sports dis­ci­pline that does not boast of any state-of-the-art in­fra­struc­ture in the coun­try, Aruna has shown re­mark­able dex­ter­ity in achiev­ing what she has, with sin­gu­lar de­ter­mi­na­tion and with the sup­port of her coaches Swar­nalatha, Giri­raj and Ravin­der be­fore Brij Kishore took her un­der his wings. Aruna’s ca­reer path is sim­i­lar to the saga that typ­i­fies that of a ma­jor­ity of In­dian achiev­ers, par­tic­u­larly those, who are not in the elit­ist sports cat­e­gories like cricket, bad­minton and ten­nis. Ow­ing to that, the Te­lan­gana State Chief Min­is­ter K Chan­drasekhar Rao must be lauded for giv­ing Aruna a cheque of two crore ru­pees and an as­sur­ance that the gov­ern­ment would ex­tend all pos­si­ble sup­port to help her achieve greater glory in the days ahead. A Venkatesh­war Reddy, chair­man of Sports Au­thor­ity of Te­lan­gana State (SATS) re­it­er­ated the words of the CM. “We will sup­port the prodi­gious tal­ent all the way. Aruna has el­e­vated the stature of the state on the world gymnastics map and her be­ing the first In­dian to win a medal in the cov­eted cham­pi­onship, adds to the charm. SATS will put in place the best pos­si­ble in­fra­struc­ture so that she can fine-tune her skills. We have sought as­sis­tance from the Sports Au­thor­ity of In­dia (SAI) and the Union Sports Min­is­ter, Colonel Ra­jyavard­han Singh Rathore. He has re­sponded quite favourably,” Mr Reddy as­sures. With a solid sup­port from the sports au­thor­i­ties in pro­vid­ing the re­quired in­fra­struc­ture, there’s no stop­ping this lat­est poster girl of In­dia, whom the whole na­tion is look­ing up to.

“Liv­ing up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of my fam­ily and teach­ers has brought me big­ger joy than be­ing the first In­dian to have a podium fin­ish in the World Cup”

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