JAKARTA: The rise of gymnast Ashish Kumar was fast and surprised everyone; the fall came even faster. Ashish became a household name by winning two medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and a bronze in the Guangzhou Asian Games that followed, but found himself on the sidelines just a couple of years later following selection issues and career-threatening injuries.
After missing the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, the 27-year-old, once the poster-boy of Indian gymnastics, is trying to regain his position at the top, and for that he’s seeking inspiration from his performance eight years back. “I take a lot of inspiration from my medals in 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Asiad. They were huge moments in my career. Unfortunately, injuries affected my performances. I know no athlete can always stay at the top. In sports, the graph keeps going up and down,” Ashish told TOI.
The gymnast from Allahabad said that despite facing injury issues in the last few years, he was feeling good about his chances in Jakarta. “I feel I am in the same form and good physical condition as in 2010. If I can replicate what I have been doing in training, I believe I have a very good chance. I had a few good tournaments in recent times which added to my confidence. I won a medal in the 2010 Asiad, I hope to win another here too to make a successful comeback. I am also looking to compete in 2020 Olympics.”
Talking about the team’s chances here, he said the going will be tough for India. “Asian Games is like second Olympics. There are gymnasts from China, Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei as well as countries like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, all strong teams. It will be tougher than the Commonwealth Games.”
‘Focus should be on the sport’
Ashish said India can make it bigger in gymnastics but for that to happen, there should be more focus on the sport. “Gymnastics as a sport has improved in India. But there should be focus on gymnastics as a sport and politics should be kept away from sport.
“We must train the children from the age of four to 10. You have to start early in gymnastics to have a strong base. Due to lack of coaching during that initial period, many budding gymnasts’ careers end prematurely.”