Hyderabad: The comeback story of Budda Aruna Reddy is nothing short of inspirational. Having suffered a career-threating ACL injury during the World Cup event in December last year, she underwent surgery that kept her out of action for a near six months.
With Olympics in 2020, this year is crucial for her as she has to compete in Olympic qualifying events to book a berth to Tokyo Games. However, the injury ruled her out from eight Olympic qualifying events. The World Championships, scheduled in Stuttgart in Germany from October 4, is the last qualifying event.
With this event in mind, Aruna, who won India’s first ever medal (bronze) in a World Cup last year, started preparing for the event. Though the doctors advised her to take rest for almost a year, she risked everything for her dream of competing in the quadrennial event.
She put up a stunning show in the selection trials on Monday to return to Indian team. “This show in the trials is the best performance in my career. Coming back from the injury, I had put in everything. And playing in World Championships, it is a do-or-die situation for me. So I had to take a risk and started preparing early. Or else, I would miss out on playing in the Olympics,” said an elated Telangana gymnast from New Delhi.
She also credited her coach Manoj Rana, doctors and family for helping her to come out of the tough period. “This (being able to compete in trials and get into Indian team) was possible only because of the support from my coach, doctors and my family members who stood by me and never allowed any negative thoughts to get into my mind. They showed faith in me and encouraged me all the way. Rana sir planned everything in advance to get me ready for the trials,” she revealed.
Aruna, who underwent surgery in December 2018, took to the mat in June. She trained in Mumbai for 20 days and then went to Poland for training and rehabilitation programme for a month before returning to New Delhi. “We were told that if we undergo ACL surgery, there are chances of its reoccurrence in the first one year. So my coach was very careful. We trained not putting more load on my leg. Right now, I am at my peak in terms of fitness. We worked hard on my strength.”
There was also drama as Indian gymnastics association was in turmoil. The athletes were not sure whether there would be selection trials and their participation in World Championships was in doubt. But she revealed that she was prepared for all the situations. “My coach prepared me for all the situations. If I had suffered the injury in February than December, I would not have even thought about competing in World Championships. He told me not to lose hope if I don’t make it to Olympics. Even if I had missed, he said, I can focus on World Cups next year and prepare for 2024 Olympics. So at any point, I was not worried. I was focused on preparations alone,” she asserted.
With Dipa Karmakar, who is recovering from injury, out of the Indian team, she says there is no extra pressure on her to win Olympic berth for the country. “There are not many expectations from me by anyone since I am coming from an injury and competing at elite level is not easy within this short span of time. So that is a good thing for me. I am under no pressure,” she concluded.