For my father: Pranati Nayak knocks bronze medal at Asian Meet
Pranati is India’s third major vaulting medallist after Dipa Karmakar and Aruna Reddy, though her biggest challenge of 2019 will be the World Championships later this year.
Pranati Nayak went to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia for the Asian Gymnastics Championships, relieved in the knowledge that she had successfully accomplished two of her four targets for 2019: build a house for her family and take half the responsibility of her elder sister’s wedding.
Her father, a state transport bus driver in West Bengal until 2017, had saved up as much as he could, before taking up a smaller job in an office the last two years as he neared the age of 60 while Pranati (26) took care of the rest. Her third task was a lifetime’s dream — winning an international medal which had eluded the West Bengal gymnast.And Friday, Pranati stuck two clean landings scoring 13.384 on the vault and picked a commendable bronze, behind China (14.350) and Japan (13.584) at the Senior Asian Championships, 20 years after she first took to the sport in Midnapore.
“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,” she said, her first thoughts post winning, racing to her parents back in Midnapore.
Picked by long-time coach Minara Begum after a school coach recommended her, Pranati moved to Kolkata in her pre-teens, with her coach taking complete care of her living expenses. “My parents couldn’t have afforded my sports career, Minara ma’am took care of my stay, food, other expenses to pocket money when I saw that’s what teenagers got,” she said.
On Friday, she scaled back her ambition — Tsukahara 360 back double twist and a front 360 somersault pike with half turn — both at difficulty 4.8. “My landings and spins were perfect today,” she said.
An Indian Railways employee, she has also put all her earnings into the house soon after she became the senior national champion in Pune earlier this year. On Friday, her cash prize was $200 (Rs 14,000).
A gymnast who takes off on strong legs and is equally adept at other apparatus owing to her strong shoulders, Pranati is coach Minara’s biggest success story yet, coming just a few months after she retired in February from SAI.