Monday, September 27, 2010

Commonwealth Games: Now is the time

It will be a different experience altogether for Indian gymnasts when they perform in front of the home crowd and perhaps the biggest ever challenge.

However, at the same time, it will be an opportunity of a lifetime because of two reasons — their current form and absence of top gymnasts from the event.

“This time, we are better prepared and have better prospects. So, we would try to give our best to bring medals for the country,” says 23-year-old Rohit Jaiswal, who will be competing in the floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel and horizontal bars events.

The Indian challenge will be spearheaded by Ashish Kumar and Deepa Karmakar in the men’s and women’s categories respectively. Both Ashish and Deepa are placed within the top-35 in the world ranking. While Deepa is ranked 17th in the vault category, Ashish is ranked 31st in the floor event.

“This is probably the best Indian side we have. We are hoping for a good show by our gymnasts, as a few of them are placed well in the world ranking. This will work to their advantage as most of the top-ranked gymnasts do not represent Commonwealth countries,” says national coach Ashok Mishra.

Deepa, who had performed well in recent competitions, says she will be aiming for three medals in individual categories. “It will be great to perform in front of the home crowd. Moreover, I am high on confidence right now as I have improved my world ranking (from 30th to 17th) recently. This has boosted my confidence and I am eyeing three medals in the individual categories, which includes a gold in my pet event, vault,” says Deepa.

However, Mishra says that Indian gymnasts do not have the experience of competing against athletes from Commonwealth countries.

“We are working as a team and focussing on building our collective strength. The idea is that if they give their best as a team, their individual performance will automatically improve,” explains chief coach Vladimir Chertkov.

India will face a tough fight from countries like Australia, Canada and England.

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