How gymnast Shraddha Talekar battled a foot issue to book World Championships berth

Talekar is among the three Indian gymnasts selected for the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Japan

By Samrat Chakraborty

Shraddha Talekar, 28, has made gradual progress in her gymnastic career. The national championships silver medallist made her international debut in 2019 at the World Challenge Cup in Osijek, Croatia and will be now aiming to gather crucial experience at the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan, starting October 18.

It hasn't been an easy journey for Talekar. She had to overcome a major foot issue to fix her place in the Indian artistic gymnastic squad, according to her coach Pravin Dhage.

"In her toes, one of her joint bones is bigger in size by default, it still is the same. We have worked on her lower-body but we cannot do much about the bone," Dhage told Olympics.com.

"If we undergo surgery then she will have to sit out for a while. We don't want to take that chance now since she is 28. We have done rehab and strengthening exercises and due to the bone there's no problem in her technique," he added.

Shraddha Talekar with her coach Pravin Dhage

It was in 2016 that Dhage started to train with Talekar at the indoor arena of Balewedi Sports Complex in Pune and figured out that she could go the distance, especially on the uneven bars apparatus. He, thus, worked on improving her execution and difficulty level score.

"The execution score is in the hands of the athlete and we have improved that. Her strong point is uneven bars and we figured out the places where she can take the lead," Dhage said. "We have improved her difficulty score and that has helped her feature in the Indian team consistently."

But Dhage also made sure that Talekar steers clear of other apparatus -- floor and vaulting -- to avoid aggravating her previous injuries.

"She has a bit of ankle issue due to her previous injury and that is why we didn't pay attention to vaulting or floor much," the coach said. "We are hoping that she qualifies at least for the final on uneven bars (at World Championships). It is her biggest strength. She is also good with her rotational skills."

The Maharashtra-gymnast is likely to rely on her Tkatchev flight skill on uneven bars to qualify for the final at the upcoming World Championships. Talekar will, then, shift her focus to the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and Asian Games next year besides opting for foreign training in the roadmap to Paris 2024.