Gymnast-turned-diver Medhali Redkar wins diving gold

RAJKOT,  Oct 7: Gymnast-turned-diver Medhali Redkar bagged the gold medal in the 1M Springboard contest at the National Games, here on Friday.

Once a gymnast, Medhali made a switch to diving after her coaches suggested that she try her hand in the sport as both require similar core strength and acrobatic abilities.

Though unsure, Medhali decided to give it a try. Seven years later, the Mumbaikar ended state-mate Hrutika Shriram’s stranglehold on the gold medals with a total of 171.50 points.

“I had made the team in only one event, and since it was the last event, the fatigue of waiting was setting in. But I worked on that with my psychologist and came close to my best ever to win the medal,” said Medhali in a release.

Incidentally, Medhali had bagged a bronze medal in the 3M Springboard event at the just concluded Senior Nationals in Guwahati and had finished fifth in the 1M Springboard event.

“I had complete confidence in my abilities. Yes, there was some anxiety in my mind going into the competition. But I worked on focusing only on my routine today,” added Medhali, who is also a practising physiotherapist.

The 24-year-old, who had won multiple national-level medals in gymnastics, has been successfully balancing her academics and sports over the years.

“I never wanted to restrict myself just to academics or sports. It means I need to work extra hard and my social life and friendships suffer. But I am happy with the way things are,” said Medhali, who spends about three hours on diving practice and also works with a local sports clinic.

Speaking about her transition from gymnastics to diving, Redkar said she initially used to practice both sports when she joined coach Tushar Gitaye in the Prabodhankar Thackeray Swimming Pool back in 2015.

“Though gymnastics and diving need similar abilities, the techniques are quite different. In diving you go head first in the water while in gymnastics you have to land on your feet.

“I wasn’t getting the right feel initially. But in the school nationals that same year, I finished fourth or fifth but was very happy with the way I executed my dives and decided that I could do this for a career.”

Medhali is aware that diving isn’t one of the more popular sports in the country but is hoping that things will change in the near future.

“When I started gymnastics, it was still an obscure sport. It was only after Dipa Karmakar reached the Olympics that everyone started knowing about it.

“Hopefully, diving will also soon get there. I will be happy to contribute to its success with my performances.”  (PTI)