Ashish, Aruna return to India squad for World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
Ashish Kumar, a former Asian Games medallist, and B Aruna Reddy, a 2018 World Cup bronze medallist, made stunning comebacks to the national team for the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships to be held in Stuttgart from October 4.
In the open selection trials held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex here on Monday, the seasoned Kumar of Railways emerged on top scoring 78.7 points to get the nod for the prestigious competition that offers quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Yogeshwar Singh of Services (77.6) and Aditya Singh Rana from Railways (77.5) finished second and third respectively among men while Pranati Nayak (50.75), Pranati Das (49.1) and Reddy (49.05) were the top three among women. The top three finishers in each category were selected.
The 29-year-old Kumar has had a poor run since the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. His form had continued to dip at the start of this season. He wasn’t impressive in the Croatia World Cup in May and also failed to make cut for the Asian Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from June 19-22.
But a short training stint in Poland recently made the difference. “My fitness was a big issue. Even my technique was going from bad to worse. Hence focus was on both the aspects during advance training in Poland. I’m satisfied with my current performance,” Kumar said.
The trials were earlier scheduled for September 2-3 but were cancelled by the Sports Authority of India, which announced the fresh date on Saturday. Both Kumar and Reddy were not in the initial list which was sent to meet the deadline of September 4 for sending entries by names.
In the men’s section, Rakesh Patra, who was named in the previous list, didn’t appear for the trials on Monday. Yogeshwar Singh and Debang Dey were the other two gymnasts.
Reddy, who had also gone to Poland for advance training last month along with Kumar, expressed satisfaction after the trials. “The fact that I’m making the squad after a long lay-off due to knee injury is good for my confidence ahead of the World Championships,” she said.
“Today, I didn’t push myself since the main goal was to make the team. But I would try to improve the difficulty of execution during the Worlds.”
Shraddha S Talekar, whose name was sent before the September 4 deadline, finished fourth. With total points of 46.3, she failed to make the final list. However, Nayak and Das, who were in the initial list sent, didn’t face any challenge in the trials.
“The gymnasts were a bit disturbed by the rescheduling of trials and we are hopeful the performance would be better in Germany,” said Manoj Kumar, who was named team coach. The women’s team coach is Meenara Begum.
Faction-fighting in Indian gymnastics had played a role in the initial trials to be put off, leaving gymnasts frustrated.