Tokyo-bound Pranati Nayak carrying weight of Dipa Karmakar’s legacy | Tokyo Olympics News

KOLKATA: Gymnastics had never really been high on India’s agenda, till the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, five years ago, changed a bit of that. The sport requiring extreme fitness and flexibility, vaulted with Dipa Karmakar into Indians’ conscience.
Now, with a few days left for the Tokyo Olympics to begin, another girl is hoping to carry on Dipa’s legacy.
Pranati Nayak, hailing from nondescript Pingla in Bengal’s Midnapore district, knows that Dipa has raised the bar so high that her best vault in Tokyo may be nowhere near that. And she is under no illusion.
“I will be quite happy if I achieve my personal best,” she told TOI in between training sessions at SAI Eastern Centre here. “I had been sitting at home for over a year since the pandemic hit us. I have started training again only two months back. My fitness is far from ideal. I will, of course, give it my best shot, but that might not be enough.”
But, isn’t the situation same for everyone? Not quite, Pranati explained. “I have been following the preparations of other gymnasts. They have been training throughout – even during lockdowns.”
Perhaps she too would have been practising had she been aware of her qualification for Olympics. She came to know only in April that she had made the cut, following the cancellation of Asian Championships.
“I received an Asian quota as my ranking was among the best,” she said. Immediately, SAI opened Kolkata doors for her.
“We made special arrangements for Pranati’s training as she is the only one from our centre who will be travelling to Tokyo,” SAI Eastern India director Vineet Kumar said. “We have been creating competition like situations for her, of course maintaining social distance as she is in a bio bubble,” he added.
That was like a godsend opportunity for the 26-yearold Pranati, who had given up all hopes.
A year of no activities in Pingla had wrecked her dreams. “I tried to train at home, but that hardly helped. I couldn’t find any multi-gym around, where I could have at least worked on my fitness.” Her father, a private bus driver, was grounded too during the pandemic and finances were always a stumbling block.
However, two months at the SAI Centre has rejuvenated Pranati. Even though the reality has struck hard, a dream lies dormant deep within.

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