Aruna Reddy creates history, becomes first Indian to win medal in Gymnastics World Cup
Aruna Budda Reddy, the 22-year-old from Hyderabad, Telangana, on Saturday created history when she became the first Indian gymnast to win a World Cup Series medal. Aruna bagged a bronze at the World Cup Gymnastics Series event in Melbourne, finishing third in vault with a score of 13.649 on the first day of the finals at the Hisense Arena.
Aruna made it to the vault final with the second-best score in qualifying. She had a score of 13.566 in her two attempts. Aruna had an excellent vault in her first attempt, bagging 4.600 for difficulty and 9.066 for execution. She could not repeat the same in her second attempt as her execution was not perfect and she got 4.800 and 8.666 respectively; thus finishing 0.383 points behind Australia’s Emily Whitehead (13.949).
Aruna is the third Indian gymnast after Ashish Kumar and Dipa Karmakar, who won bronze in the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games respectively, to win a medal in competitions organised by the international gymnastics federation (FIG). Her achievement is all the more credible because she was participating in the World Cup Series, which is an invitational event involving 16 selected gymnasts across the world.
In the vault final involving eight competitors, Aruna managed a score of 13.649 to finish third behind Tjasa Kysslef of Slovenia (13.800) and local star Whitehead (13.699). Aruna bagged 4.600 and 9.066 for her first attempt and 4.800 and 8.966 for her second. Kysslef, who was placed eighth in the qualifying round surged to the top of the podium with two superb attempts, which earned her 4.800 and 9.000 for first and 5.000 and 8.800 for her second.
Pranati Nayak, the other Indian in the fray in vault, too qualified for the final but had to settle for sixth position overall with a score of 13.416.
Aruna has also qualified for the final in floor exercise and is placed eighth with a score of 11.466. However, she will need a tremendous effort to climb into medal contention in the final on Sunday.
In men’s artistic gymnastics, India’s Rakesh Patra made it to the final in rings but finished fourth with a score of 13.733. China’s Ma Yue (14.800) and Wu Guanhua (14.733) finished first and second with Japan’s Takeda Kazuyuki (14.433) placed third. Patra has also made it to the final in parallel bars.
Ashish Kumar qualified for the vault final with a score of 13.733. He, however, failed to repeat the feat in floor exercise. The remaining finals will be held on Sunday.
The Melbourne event is the last in the 2014-17 World Cup Series before the start of the 2017-2020 cycle, which will herald the start of the qualifying rounds for Tokyo Olympics. Competitions will be held between November 2018 and March 2019 while the next cycle will be from November 2019 to March 2020. The top finisher in these events will qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, with quota places going to the next best-placed in case a competitor has already qualified.