How the daughter of a bus driver, gymnast Pranati Nayak, reached the Olympics
Hailing from Jhargham in West Bengal, Pranati Nayak comes from a very humble background. Her father used to work as a bus driver.
The name Pranati Nayak sent Indian media houses into a frenzy yesterday evening when news started rolling out that she has become only the second-ever Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics.
There were rumors in the Indian sporting circles about Pranati Nayak having a sniff at the Olympics for almost a week, but no one was really sure how. There was a lot of confusion. It was complete chaos.
A clearer picture of things emerged yesterday evening when the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships which was to serve as a qualification event for the Tokyo Olympics was officially canceled due to the pandemic. This meant that the last conducted Asian Championships would be taken into consideration for Tokyo Olympics qualification; and this is where the 26 year old hit the jackpot winning the Asian continental quota.
Nayak had put up a stunning show at 2019 Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships and had clinched a bronze medal in Vault. This display at Mongolia in 2019 came to her rescue as she now finds herself in the midst of the Indian contingent for the Tokyo Olympics.
Though the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has not made any official announcement regarding the same, it is almost a certainty that Paranti Nayak will make it to Tokyo.
Hailing from Jhargham in West Bengal, Pranati Nayak comes from a very humble background. Her father used to work as a bus driver until 2017 to feed his family before retiring, while her mother is a housewife.
Money was hard to come by for the Nayak family, but that did not deter Pranati and her family from chasing the youngster's dream. She took up gymnastics as a nine year old and soon shifted to Kolkata after her school coach's recommendation.
It was in this metro city where she learned all that she knows about the sport. Moving to a different city as a kid might be very hard, but Pranati was determined and she found an able coach-cum-guide in Minara Begum.
Begum not only took Pranati under her wings but also took care of all her financial needs in Kolkata. While supporting her was tough for the Nayak family due to the financial background, Begum was the messiah. She took care of everything, from her stay, to food, to pocket money and all her other miscellaneous expenses.
Rise to the top
Pranati blossomed under Begum's tutelage and quickly established herself as the one to watch out for in Indian gymnastics. Her consistent performances helped her gain a job with the Indian Railways, and she continues to work there.
But, it was the 2019 Asian Artistic Gymnastic Championships that changed the course of Pranati's life. Minara Begum was long retired by this time.
Her bronze medal in Mongolia not only brought her national recognition, but the same bronze medal has also paved her way to the Tokyo Olympics almost two years later.
Pranati Nayak would be only the second-ever Indian to represent India at the Olympics when she takes the field at Tokyo; while Minara Begum will continue to cheer her ward from her home.