While Bhavani Devi says “Sorry” to the nation, Pranati Nayak’s childhood coach Minara Begum voices that her student had a very casual approach towards the event which was never the case when Pranati was under her training.
Writing her name on the pages of history as the first Indian fencer ever, who qualified for the Olympics, Bhavani Devi started out at the Tokyo 2020 Games with a confident victory over Nadia Ben Azizi from Tunisia. The final score read 15-3 in Devi’s favour. Unfortunately, her campaign came to a sudden end, when she went down fighting against fourth-seeder Manon Brunet from France. In the second round of the Women’s Fencing Sabre event, at the Makuhari Messe Hall, the match ended 15-7 in favour of Brunet.
What was tough for the 27-year-old Indian to go up against Brunet, who holds the World No. 3 rank, was the fact that she might have been bearing down the earlier losses against Brunet. However, she never seemed daunted by the task at hand and kept fighting hard. Unfortunately for her, Brunet was simply too skilled.
After this abrupt end, Bhavani Devi posted on Instagram, about the “Big Day”. She was clearly emotional after her historic Olympic run. In the post she has also apologised to all the citizens of the country and to all of her supporters, and has also said that she will leave no stone unturned to win a medal at the next edition of the Olympics, to be held in Paris.
I am sorry 🙏🇮🇳
Every end has a beginning, I will continue my practice and definitely work hard to win a medal at the next Olympics in France and make my country proud.”
Devi may not have been able to secure a medal this time around, but she did make some inroads beyond the first round, something which cannot be said about India’s lone gymnast to have secured a berth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – Pranati Nayak.
Pranati competed in the ‘all-around’ event and went on to attempt every bar, beam and floor exercise and even the vault. At the end of her campaign, all-around score came to 42.565 which never seemed enough for her to qualify for the finals. However, there were a lot of raised eyebrows about the approach of Nayak and her coach for not opting a second vault. This made her automatically ineligible to move on to the event finals on vault.
In Gymnastics, to achieve qualification to a vault event final, a gymnast must complete two separate kinds of vaults. In the qualification round, he/she has to perform both the vaults first. The average of the two scores becomes the final score. The athletes with the 8 highest average scores move on to the event final.
In India a fuming Minara Begum, Nayak’s long-time coach has severely questioned the intent of Nayak for deciding not to perform the second vault. Begum who had coached Nayak for eighteen years, was distraught seeing Nayak’s performance at the Tokyo Olympics. She took to Facebook to share her sadness, “Today I cried when I saw Pranati’s performance specially in the Vault Table where she didn’t try for the second vault. I don’t understand why didn’t she take the opportunity of the second vault, it would have helped her to qualify for the finals. I don’t know whose decision it was not to perform the second vault, this decision has deprived India. It was my dream for the last 18 years to bring a medal for India but today everything got shattered due to a wrong decision.”
Earlier, in an exclusive interview to Sportsavour, Begum had made her reservations known when Nayak was sent to the Olympics with relatively inexperienced coach Laxman Manohar Sharma. After Pranati’s failure in the Olympics, she did not mince her words about that issue either – “Normally coach is supposed to decide everything about the performance and when a coach who is a beginner with no experience is sent to Olympic Podium this is what happens. The new Coach was unable to deliver his duties and our country is at a loss as well as my coaching. Olympics is not a joke and it is place where we are supposed to give the best we have and my student Pranati Nayak was not allowed to do so. Pranati is a fighter but today she did not fight as she used to“.