New Delhi: Relishing a fellow athletes success, India's ace gymnast Ashish Kumar is rather happy to share the limelight with Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Dipa Karmakar when they head for the Asian Games in Korea starting September 19.
In a case of contrasting fortunes in Glasgow, 2010 Asian games bronze-winner Ashish had a faulty landing to finish last in his vault event while Dipa became quite a star after coming third in vault to give India their first CWG medal in womens gymnastics. The Allahabad boy was full of praise for Dipa, who made her state of Tripura proud.
"Dipa getting a bronze in Glasgow has been a definite plus for the sport of gymnastics. It broke the notion that womens gymnastics is not that good. Now suddenly people notice women gymnasts from India and give them a chance. So going into the Asian games she will be motivated with a CWG bronze in her pocket," Ashish, who gave India their first gymnastic medal after winning bronze and silver in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, told PTI.
"Her medal also has taken some pressure off me. It's good to have a person who is equally popular as you are and the pressure and expectations get divided. It's always good to enter a competition with less pressure," he added.
Looking to forget the Glasgow experience as a bad dream, Ashish, who is competing in six apparatus but concentrating to qualify and win on the floor, said that in gymnastics fortunes change on a particular day and you can never judge anybody by form or record.
"My philosophy is, 'Let bygones be bygones' and I am just looking to put my best foot forward with a clear mind. I will try my level best to give my best shot in the Asian Games and try and get a medal for my nation. On a particular day anybody can perform well and get a medal," he said.
If CWG was tough then Asian Games would be tougher and Ashish realizes that getting past teams like China, Japan and Korea will be no mean task.
"Asian Games is a different ball game if we compare it
with the Commonwealth Games. The level of competition is tougher. Teams like China, Japan, Korea are very dominating countries in gymnastics and their presence will certainly make things difficult. The gymnasts from these nations are forever improving with each passing year and competition," Ashish said.
With CWG ending on August 3, there was little time for athletes to switch gears for Asian Games. Ashish feels the little spacing between the two events can work either ways.
"You start afresh for every tournament. Though, it's true that not much time has gone by since the CWG ended. But we got little time to prepare for Incheon. Soon after the Asian Games we head for the World Championships, which will kickstart the process for 2016 Olympic qualification. Sometimes back-to-back tournaments can be taxing," he said.
The only gymnast to win a medal in the Asian Games after clinching bronze in the 2010 Guanghzou Games, Ashish rues about the lack of planning for the Indian athletes during mega-events.
"It is very unfortunate that we don't know who all are accompanying us to the Incheon. If we are told beforehand, say a month or two, that such and such coach is going with us then we can get adjusted, mentally and psychologically, and improve our association with the person for best results.
"But sadly that's not the case and we still await the final names of the support staff. And the role of a coach is very important in our sport. But hopefully all this will not come in our way to succeed in the Games."