It was at the age of 9 when Ananya Garikipati had her first experience with rhythmic gymnastics and now after 5 years she has been defying odds by winning medals all around the world. The current junior state champion of Andhra Pradesh has won a silver in Tashkent, a bronze in Dubai and 3 bronze medals in London. Recently, she won medals in Russia and also the Lady Legends Accolades Award for her outstanding achievements in rhythmic gymnastics.

Here is how the conversation went with her:

What got you interested in rhythmic gymnastics?

I saw my friends do it in my class when I was 9 years old. It sparked an interest in me and now I am really passionate about it.

How is rhythmic gymnastics different than normal gymnastics?

Rhythmic gymnastics includes ballet with apparatus handling and also a little bit of dancing. We have apparatus like hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon and rope.

Tell us about your training.

I train for 4-5 hours in a day and during weekends I train for 6 hours. I train at the Downtown Club in Hyderabad.

How has been your journey so far?

I have been competing ever since the age of 9. I started playing international competitions from 2016 and I have won medals in all of them. I have gone to London, Dubai, Tashkent and most recently I went to Moscow, Russia. I have trained under the Commonwealth champion Nazmi Johnston and in Moscow I trained under Olympic champion Anna Gavrilenko.

How was the experience in Russia?

The competition was tough because I was competing with Russians. Their level of training was also very high as compared to ours. I learned a lot during my stay.

What goes in your mind during tournaments? How do you cope up with the pressure?

I listen to songs so that I can distract myself from the nervousness and the pressure. One more thing which I do before any tournament is that I imagine myself standing on the podium receiving the medal. It gives me a lot of motivation.

Any special kind of ritual or superstition you have before your performance?

No, I don’t have any rituals.

You also got the Lady legends Accolades Award for outstanding achievements in rhythmic gymnastics as an inspiration to girls. How does it feel being an inspiration at such a young age?

I feel very happy and I still can’t believe it. I didn’t realise that I was being an inspiration to other girls when I received that award. It was very exciting.

Who is your idol?

I look up to the two time Olympic champion Evgeniya Kanaeva and recent Olympic champion Margarita Mamun.

What has been your most memorable moment?

My most memorable moment was winning medals in Russia.

What is your dream?

My dream is to win medals at the Olympics and the World Championships.

14 year old Ananya gives a lot of credit to her family for her success. Her mother Mrs Kota Padmaja, an eye doctor has been quite instrumental behind her achievements. She recently completed a course to qualify as a national rhythmic gymnastics judge in order to help her daughter with her tournaments. She believes that all these international participation has increased her daughter’s confidence and brought out her inner champion. Ananya has the potential to carry Indian gymnastics to unprecedented heights and with the proper encouragement and support, she can even win the coveted Olympic medal for our country.

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