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
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”