Forced break reignites gymanst Rakesh Patra's Olympics hopes

Rakesh Patra, who had a surgery in January to fix a ligament tear in his left shoulder, is going through rehab at his home town Puri in Odisha.

Rakesh Patra, who needs to continue with his rehab for two-and-a-half months more before resuming gymnastics training, is privileged to have a gym in front of his home.   -  Special Arrangement

The forced break due to the COVID-19 pandemic has reignited international gymnast Rakesh Patra’s hopes for the Olympics.

Patra, who had a surgery in January to fix a ligament tear in his left shoulder, is going through rehab at his home town Puri in Odisha. With the Olympics rescheduled for next year, Patra — who had narrowly missed out on securing a berth in the Rio Games — is optimistic.

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Need to work harder

“I had missed the Olympic qualification last time. I narrowly missed out on medals and ended up in fourth place in Melbourne and Turkey World Cups and met with disappointment despite making it to the 2018 Commonwealth Games final (rings). But I always think that I need to work harder to break the jinx.

“God has given me a chance. I am not losing any time because of my surgery and can make a new start like any other gymnast around the world,” Patra, a specialist in rings, told Sportstar on Friday.

“Today I interacted with (pommel horse world champion and double gold medallist in Rio Olympics) Max Whitlock’s coach Scot Han. There is a strong chance that the remaining quota places will be filled by following the new code of point in the qualifying event. If the difficulty score rises (in rings and parallel bars), my chances become brighter.”

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Privileged

Patra, who needs to continue with his rehab for two-and-a-half months more before resuming gymnastics training, is privileged to have a gym in front of his home.

“My uncle (Suvendu Patra), a gymnast who inspired me to take up the sport, has a gym right across my home. I do my rehab there. I had put on weight after the surgery. I lost about 5kg in recent weeks to come to my normal shape.

“The lockdown has made me determined to fight back. I am hugely inspired by Olympian Oksana Chusovitina, who is still performing in her mid-40s. I also want to carry on as long as I can and achieve my dream,” said 28-year-old Patra, who has won several gold medals in the National championships, National Games and the Hong Kong International Championships.

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