An overnight sensation, gymnast Pranati Nayak on Friday bagged a bronze medal in vault event at the Senior Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The 23-year-old who hails from West Bengal scored a 13.384 to claim the bronze medal, just behind China’s Yu Linmin (14.350) and Japan’s Ayaka Sakaguchi (13.584) won the gold and silver medal at the event. Pranati had scored 13.400 and 13.367 in the first and second vault respectively.

When asked Pranati’s coach Minara Begum expressed happiness saying, “I have been training her since she was 16 years and so it is a big thing for me and the country. I feel blessed that Pranati has been able to win the medal,” TOI reported.

Pranati’s father, who was a state transport bus driver in West Bengal until 2017, is working at a smaller job in an office for the last two years. Pranati takes care of the family’s financial demands, and now that one of her lifetimes dreams — winning an international medal — has been fulfilled the budding West Bengal gymnast can fully support her family’s well-being.

Pranati performed perfectly proportional landings and spin — Tsukahara 360 back double twist and a front 360 somersault pike with half turn — both at difficulty 4.8.

On Friday, people witnessed Pranati striking two clean landings, scoring 13.384 on the vault and picked a commendable bronze, 20 years after she first took to the sport in Midnapore.

Currently, Pranati stands tall as India’s third major vaulting medallist after Dipa Karmakar and Aruna Reddy, eyeing her biggest challenge of 2019 — the World Championships scheduled to be held later this year.

“It’s a big day for me, because I knew I had it in me to win medals internationally. But everything I do is for my parents. They’ve not had an easy life, and I want to ensure my father gets comfortable. He’s driven a bus for many years and now I want life to be a little easy for him. My parents don’t have a son, but I told them I was enough to take care of them,” Pranati told Indian Express.

READ: Gymnastics Isn’t A Sport, It’s A Lifestyle: Rhythmic Gymnast Bavleen Kaur

She is been training under long-time coach Minara Begum, started after a school coach recommended her. As a teenager Pranati moved to Kolkata and her coach took care of her living expenses. “My parents couldn’t have afforded my sports career, Minara ma’am took care of my stay, food, and other expenses to pocket money when I saw that’s what teenagers got,” she said.

Talking about the challenges at the sub-juniors in 2008 when she travelled to Russia but couldn’t get to the podium since Kolkata had limitations, Pranati claimed, “Even maintaining a proper diet was difficult. And I had to share equipment with dozens of others; it’s not fair to hog time on the apparatus. So, I’d be in the Delhi IG stadium camp with Gymnova equipment and get good scores, but return to Kolkata and again drop my level.”

At the Incheon Asiad, she made the all-around finals but it was the 8th place at Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast last year that jolted her out of her career plateau. “I made the finals, but missed on landings and that broke my heart. Then, there were all those times finishing 4th in Asian championships. So when I made the finals here at Mongolia, that night Minara ma’am and our manager Rohit Jaiswal, sat me down at 1 am and told me, this is my chance to do the toughest thing in gymnastics — be consistent,” she said.

An Indian Railways employee, Pranati became the senior national champion in Pune earlier this year. On Friday, she earned a cash prize was of Rs 14,000.

Feature Image Credit: Firstpost

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