Aruna’s feat ‘a great moment’ for family

Aruna Reddy’s passion to be special in gymnastics contributed to her unprecedented accomplishment on Saturday, says her sister.

Aruna Reddy (third from left) with her bronze medal.   -  Twitter (@Ra_THORe)

She scripted history, becoming the first Indian gymnast to win a medal at the World Cup when she bagged a bronze in the women’s vault with a score of 13.649 in Melbourne on Saturday. But, she is still chasing that dream of having the national anthem played when she stands on the medal podium in an inter-continental championship!

And, within hours, Aruna Budda Reddy, who fine-tuned her raw talent at the Lal Bahadur Stadium here for more than 15 years now, had to shut herself away from all distractions. This is because she has qualified for another final in the floor exercises category scheduled for Sunday.

The 22-year-old gymnast’s voice was clearly choked with emotion when she spoke to her elder sister Pavani, a company secretary with Greenko group which incidentally helped the gymnast financially to train abroad.

“Yes, I could feel her joy and emotion of achieving what no one else has had before. Unfortunately, her current coach Brij Kishore sir is not well and in hospital,” says Pavani in a chat with Sportstar on Saturday.

Aruna, a B. Com graduate from St. Mary’s College (Yousufguda) here, is already thinking about the Commonwealth Games in Australia later this year. To continue her training, she will be flying directly to Uzbekistan where she has been for the last two months. “I will try my best to come to Hyderabad for a brief stay but [I’m] not sure since I have been advised not to waste time and join the Indian camp in Uzbekistan,” said Aruna.

The gymnast’s family hails from Anantapur but is settled in Hyderabad for 30 years. “This is almost our hometown. We grew up here and are grateful to the hospitality and the kind of support Aruna got when she switched over from martial arts to gymnastics,” she recalled.

‘A story of struggle’

“Like for all middle-class athletes in Indian sport, ours too is a story of struggle. We lost our father eight years ago and we both had to be on our own, taking care of our mother also,” says Pavani. “It is a great moment for all of us. Honestly, we were only surprised by the rapid progress she has been making in the recent past. This is because of her passion and intense desire to be a special in gymnastics,” says the proud sister.

Former SAAP gymnastics coach and now SATS Deputy Director G. Ravinder was one of those who suggested to Aruna’s father Narayana Reddy that her short stature, great strength, flexibility and control over the body should make her a better gymnast.

“She is just too good for the way she trains, never complaining and always trying to improve with each session. Luckily, our mentor M. Balraj (now senior vice-president of Telangana Gymnastics Association) brushed aside the view that she was too young to compete in the National Games by giving Aruna the big breaks,” he says.

The rest is history!