Indian gymnast Rakesh Patra will be leaving for a 15-day training camp in Turkey on Saturday to get ready for the Asian Games with an aim to break the jinx of fourth-place finishes at major international competitions.
The 26-year-old from Odisha finished fourth in the ring event at the FIG World Challenge Cup in Mersin, Turkey earlier this month.
He had also narrowly missed a medal at the Melbourne World Cup in February as well finishing in the fourth place. In fact, at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games too, Patra had finished fourth in rings.
“It has been very frustrating for me to finish fourth in a number of major events,” Rakesh, who had narrowly missed the Rio Olympic qualification after being ranked 25th, even as the top 24 in the world made the cut, told PTI during an interview.
“I missed medal by small margins. You feel disappointed because it hurts but you can’t leave it because that is what sport is to about, to challenge yourself and do better.
“My father and childhood coach Ashok Mishra motivates me a lot. Also there is Ashwini Kumar Samantaraya, who has been guiding me for the last two years. I really hope I can break that and do well in Asian Games,” Patra said.
The Asian Games are three weeks away and Rakesh said he is looking forward towards training with European Games medallist Ibrahim Colak in Turkey to prepare himself for the multi-sport event.
“Under TOPS, I’m going for a training camp of 15 days in Turkey. I will be leaving tomorrow. I will be training along with Ibrahim Colak of Turkey and under his coach. He has won gold in Turkey world cup and he is also preparing for the European Championship (August) and I will be training for Asian Games.
“I want to pick up cues from their training and inculcate those things in my program with an aim of getting better results. It has helped me in the past.”
Under the government’s TOPS, other gymnasts, including Ashish Kumar, Aruna Reddy and Pranati Nayak, have also gone for training camps in countries such as Belgium and Uzbekistan.
Rakesh, who scored 13.650 in the ring finals at Turkey World Cup, said he is eying a score of above 14.50 to return with a medal from the Asian Games.
“My aim is to score above 14.50, I feel that can get me in the medal tally at the Asian Games. It all depends on that day in the competition because even a little difference makes a huge impact,” he added.
“My personal best score is 14.35 and my D score (difficulty) is 5.60 and I’m trying to improve it to 5.90, so that with a deduction of 1.30, if I can score a D score of 5.90 then it will be 14.60 which can get be a medal, so I am working hard towards it,” he added.
Having missed the Rio Olympic qualification narrowly, Rakesh set his eyes on finishing inside the top 8 at the World Championship in Germany next year to directly make the cut for the Tokyo2020 event.
“My main target is to be in the top 8 at the World Championship next year in Sept-October at Germany and qualify directly for the Olympics. I missed out last time and I really want it this time. If I can score above 15, then I can return with a medal. So basically target will be to push my D score to 6.1 or 6.2,” he signed off.