Aruna Reddy’s quest for greater glory spurred by setbacks, personal tragedy

February 25, 2018


There are a few instances in every athlete’s life that create a platform which propels them to achieve greater things. For Aruna Budda Reddy, who on Saturday became the first Indian to clinch bronze at the Gymnastics World Cup in Melbourne, it came at the age of eight when her karate coach realised that her frame was better suited for gymnastics.

She had been associated with the sport for nearly three years then, having started at the age of five, but once the transition from action sports to aesthetic gymnastics was over, she proved that her coach had taken the right decision. She qualified for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but being underage, she had to give the mega event a miss.

In an interview published in 2014, Aruna had said, “I wanted to be part of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, I had even qualified, but because I was underage (14), I couldn’t take part. Right after that I started training for the next Commonwealth Games.” She did go on to make the cut and be a part of the squad, but unfortunately, the team, which also included the likes of Dipa Karmakar and Pranati Das, couldn’t bag a medal.

The one person who has probably sacrificed the most for Aruna is her father Narayan Reddy who even sold his house to support her dreams.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 2012 but Aruna gave a fitting tribute to her biggest inspiration by clinching gold at the 2012 Senior National Championships in Udaipur. Aruna treated her personal loss as an encouragement to go a notch better. “After my father’s death, I lost my focus for a week or so. I didn’t know what to do and even contemplated quitting the sport. But my sister and brother-in-law took care of me and provided me the support I needed,” Aruna was quoted as saying in a report.

“Payanai (sister) even sold her jewellery to finance my training and my brother-in-law, despite his tough private job, even accompanied me to training sessions whenever needed.” Aruna has taken part in three World Championships so far — in Antwerp (2013), Nanning (2014) and Montreal (2017). She’ll also take part in the CWG in Glasgow.

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