A medal may be a challenge for the Indian contingent without an injured Dipa Karmakar as they face an uphill task at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships beginning in Stuttgart, Germany on Friday.
The only Indian to have ever qualified for Olympics, Karmakar remains the country’s top gymnast but is out of the tournament after failing to recover from a nagging knee injury.
In her absence, the onus will be on Pranati Nayak, Pranati Das and Aruna Budda Reddy to make an impact in the women’s category after they were selected in the six-member Indian team last month.
Pranati Nayak has won a bronze in vault at the Senior Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Mongolia earlier this year, while Reddy claimed bronze at 2018 Gymnastics World Cup.
But the World Championships will be a different ball scenario where even reaching the finals has proved to be a difficult task for Indian gymnasts in the past.
In the men’s section, the focus will be on 2010 Asian Games bronze medallist Ashish Kumar, while the team will also have Yogeshwar Singh and Aditya Singh Rana.
Olympic quotas will also be up for grabs with the top nine teams in each discipline (excluding the three already qualified from 2018) set to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
Individual Olympic berths will also be at stake as the top 12 male and top 20 female gymnasts, which will be decided by rankings in the all-around competitions, will qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Additionally, the three top gymnasts in each apparatus final, excluding those from qualified teams, will also book their Olympic tickets.
Among Indians, Ashish Kumar, Pranati Nayak and Reddy have done reasonably well in the past and there will be expectations from them to at least reach the finals.
However, finishing in the top three will be far-fetched if not impossible, considering the fact that Karmakar’s fifth place finish in vault event at the 2015 World Championships remains India’s best performance in the tournament till now.
For Kumar and Reddy, it has been a good comeback into the national team after battling poor form of late.
The 29-year-old Kumar has been out of form since last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He failed to put up a good show in the Croatia World Cup in May and also couldn’t make the cut for the Asian Championships in Mongolia in June.
However, a training stint in Poland seems to have given them a lot of confidence as they managed to finish in the top three at the selection trials last month.
While Kumar top-scored with 78.7 points, Reddy came up with a score of 49.05 to make the cut.
Among others, Pranati Nayak (50.75) emerged as top-scorer in women’s section, followed by Pranati Das (49.1). In the men’s category, Yogeshwar Singh (77.6) and Aditya Singh Rana (77.5) finished second and third respectively at the trials.
With PTI Inputs