This time on the occasion of World athletics Day we decided to interview Kshipra Joshi, a rhythmic gymnastic player turned into a certified rhythmic gymnastic coach. As lively as the conversation was, we also got to know multiple things about rhythmic gymnastic and the way the sport is practiced in India.
1) How did your journey in this field begin?
I used to watch my elder sister (Spruha Joshi) practise gymnastics and since then I had developed a curiosity about the sport. Initially, I was too young to practise artistic gymnastics, but considering my interest in the sport, my mother requested the authorities to consider my age and let me start practising the sport. Rhythmic gymnastics came much later into my life when I was 13 years old. My coach, Varsha Upadhye had learnt Rhythmic gymnastics from abroad and decided to popularize it in India. As a result, we were her first batch of Rhythmic gymnastics. Even though the sport was new in India, we were trained in a goal-oriented way. Varsha tai (coach) wanted our team to qualify for common wealth games, world championship etc. I played my first national Rhythmic gymnastics) in under 16 age group in the year 2005 and stood second in the competition. Later, in 2007 I played my first international competition in Syria. I have represented India in 7 international competitions.
2) After starting your journey with Rhythmic gymnastics, did you practice any other form of gymnastics apart from Rhythmic?
No, as every sport needs a specific type of body structure. Another reason for not turning to any other sport after commencing my Rhythmic journey was because, it is a sport that has comparatively less requirements than others. And hence it’s infrastructure and apparatus were easily available than others. Even though, we did have difficulty in finding appropriate space to practice, we could somehow manage altering few of our needs.
3) How do you prepare yourself before you begin your performance.
Rhythmic gymnastics needs mental preparation as much as it needs physical preparation. We have to work a lot on our imaginative/ visual skills. Before our performance we visualise and revise our entire set with utter honesty. If there’s any mistake in our visualization, then we have to begin our set right from the start. It helps us to build up our confidence level as well. However, everyone has their own way of preparing for performance. Before going on the floor, I used to calm myself, constantly reassuring myself that this is going to be my best performance. We carry our napkins in hand before our performance, in order to wipe our sweat. Everyone has a style of throwing napkin in the air which signifies their confidence. Many a times coaches also use various tricks to keep the player confident and attentive for the performance.
4) What is your diet plan? How do you take care of your diet?
Rhythmic gymnastics requires a lean and tall body because the costumes are extremely glamourous and the sport requires grace. Since I am not particularly tall, I had to put all the efforts on being in appropriate shape. When I was into competitive training I had too many restrictions on my diet in order to look like an elite rhythmic gymnast. I have always listened to my coach and followed her instructions about the diet. I never took any kind of external proteins, but followed a few steps like having proper, timely meals coupled with a lot of exercise.
5) People perceive sports as passion, rather than their career.
I am following my passion as my career. I have seen people take up this sport and leave it as and when their career comes into the forefront. Fortunately, I had always decided that I am going to have this sport as my career. When I was at the peak of my career, at the age of 18, I had a severe injury and hence I had to take a couple of steps back. And at that time, I was crestfallen, however later I found my keen interest in teaching young adults. I have enjoyed teaching this sport as much as I have enjoyed playing it. By teaching it to young women, I feel like giving something back to the sport which has given me so much. I started teaching in 2017 under the guidance of Varsha tai. Along with teaching, I appeared for several exams which helped me being a certified teacher and judge of rhythmic gymnastics.
6) Has scope of rhythmic gymnastics improved in terms of infrastructure and performance over these years?
In terms of infrastructure there is unfortunately very little improvement. But, in terms of performance and awareness, rhythmic gymnastics has definitely reached greater heights. Initially a lot of people didn’t know about it, but now we see more and more people opting for it.
Written by- Sanika Ratnaparakhi