Name: Rakesh Patra
Event: Gymnastics – Rings and Parallel Bar
Commonwealth Games Experience: Debut
Best performance: 4th spot at Melbourne World Cup final (rings)
Rakesh Kumar Patra is one of India’s top artistic gymnasts and will be competing at the Commonwealth Games in Australia this year. Hailing from the eastern state of Orissa, 26-year-old Patra has represented India in several international competitions. However, his inclusion at the CWG this year was fraught with controversies.
This was after Patra was dropped from the gymnastic squad on technical ground. The selection committee chose to select gymnasts on the basis of their All Around scores (an aggregate of all 6 apparatus) and not individual events. However, with protests by Odisha Gymnastic Association and Patra himself filing a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, Patra was finally selected in the Indian squad.
Patra has faced a lot of struggles in life since childhood. While his family was never financially strong, they had to bear a lot of hardships after surviving a fire tragedy (when he was just five years old). With a good performance at the CWG, Patra will aim to secure his first medal at an international competition and change the fortunes of his family.