HYDERABAD: The first time she witnessed it live, she knew it was something she’d like to pursue
with passion. As an 11-year-old at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Meghana Reddy Gundlapally was a part of the crowd. Fast forward nine years, and the rhythmic gymnast was soaking in all the adulation at Gachibowli Indoor Stadium on Sunday, after winning three bronze at Indian Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup.
At the now-concluded two-day event, the 20-year-old grabbed medals in all-round, loop and club categories to finish as the best-performing Indian. The event had attracted gymnasts from countries like Italy, Slovenia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The only other Indian to medal was Aditee Dandekar, who clinched bronze. The field was dominated by gymnasts from Malaysia, Italy and Sri Lanka.
“I did not expect anything since I knew I was up against some very talented foreigners. I thought I would finish fourth, at best. The fact that I could win three medal hints that I have improved,” Meghana told this newspaper.
Last year, she was the only Indian rhythmic gymnast at Commonwealth Games in Australia. It had proved to be a harrowing experience, as her Greek coach Varvara Filiou could not get accreditation. Meghana
competed on her own and finished 18th.
The youngster’s success has not come easily. Meghana’s father Ramalinga Reddy Gundlapally told this newspaper that the family spent `89 lakh for her CWG stint. Till now, she has sought training in more than four countries. “Since there is not much the Indian federation can do, we have been doing everything on our own. About `20-25 lakh was given by sponsors,” Ramalinga said.
Things took a positive turn after CWG, when Go Sports Foundation came on board. “They have been taking care of her nutrition and physiotherapy since then. At least, we are not alone now,” he said.
With help at her disposal. Meghana wants to bag a medal at the next CWG. And for that, she will train under Slovenian coach Spela Dragas in Italy, who also coaches a World Championships medallist Alexandra Agiurgiuculese.
“I will be in Italy for a year,” said Meghana. “Right now, my scores are around the 12-13 mark. I want to end the year at 15-16. When the next Commonwealth Games comes, I want to be at my best.”
“Olympics is also on my mind. But to be honest, a medal at CWG will make me more happy, considering that is how I fell in love with the sport,” she concluded, while posing for photographs and obliging selfie-seekers.