With improved fitness, gymnast Pranati Nayak hopes for further success

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Mumbai, Feb 7 (PTI) With a specific aim on improving her fitness, Indian gymnast Pranati Nayak is hoping to garner success in four World Cup events and an Asian Championship to seal her berth in the Paris Olympics.

The 28-year-old Nayak, who represented India at the Tokyo Olympics, will take part in the FIG Apparatus World Cup (Qualifying OG) in Cairo from February 15-18, followed by two similar events in Baku (Azerbaijan) from March 7-10 and in Doha from April 17-20.

"I am heading for the World Cup on Tuesday (February 13) as qualification for the Olympics is starting with it. There is a World Cup in February and one each in March and April," Pranati told PTI in an exclusive chat during an event organised by the gymnast's sponsors Welspun.

"I am going especially for vault since two quotas are left from it. If I am able to win medals in at least two of the four World Cups, I have a chance to qualify (for the Olympics)," she said.

"At the Asian Championships in May, there is one quota from an Asian country on the all-round basis. I will try (to qualify) from both the ways," Pranati added.

Pranati said she has spent last two months training under an overseas coach who has brought about a significant change in her methods.

"I have been training at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar under a foreign coach Amani (from Egypt) for the last two months. I am confident of doing well because earlier the fitness levels were also not high," she said.

"I would attend just a camp one month before any competition which is not enough. I am hoping to do well, who does not want to compete in the Olympics?" "The coach felt I was lacking in fitness, so he made me work on it for one month at a stretch, even though the performances were there. For us it all depends on exhibition, improvement in fitness would reflect in performances," she added.

Pranati said her focus has been on her favourite discipline vault but she has to keep pushing to better her all-round score.

"I have to push because all-round score can be achieved only with the four apparatus. In World Cup or in Games, the focus is mainly on vault but overall, both vault and all-round are important," she said.

"There is both, enjoyment and pressure. Sometimes I go for events alone and there are hopes that I would get at least one medal. I focus on giving my best. It is not that one can clinch the gold easily; your results depend on your performances.

"But it is also very difficult to end the competition with the Chinese and Japanese gymnasts," she said. PTI DDV AH AH

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