'My parents backed me to continue'
Teenager Ashish Kumar, who fetched India its first medals in gymnastics, at the Commonwealth Games, had thought of quitting the sport at one stage.
The 19-year-old gave India its first medal since the beginning of the Commonwealth Games in 1930 in Gymnastics. After the bronze, he also followed it up by winning a silver medal in the vaults category.
"When I was 13, I lost out on qualification for the prestigious Tulit Peter Championship in Hungary by just 0.10 points. This was the second time I had not got selected and perhaps the first time I cried so bitterly," Ashish said after he was honoured by the Chandigarh Gymnastics Federation.
He said that was the stage when he thought of "giving up gymnastics".
"I was so depressed that I thought of giving up gymnastics. There was no point, I thought, after putting in so much work I had failed to get selected. However, my parents motivated me and asked me to carry on. I think that was the turning point," he said.
Now, his dream is to win an Olympic gold.
"There was a stage when nobody thought India would get a medal in gymnastics. After that has been realised, I now have set my aim for the Olympic gold," said Ashish.
Image: Ashish Kumar
'The coaches had a big role in my success'
Asked about of his mantra for success, Ashish said, "There is no substitute for hard work. I also feel one good thing which has happened this time is the world class training equipment which we were provided before the CWG. In Pune, where our camp was held for the past one year, equipment of a French company was made available to us since April."
He went on to add that he missed the gold because of a mistake that he committed.
"My hand touched the line during a role in second line of my event which cost me a penalty of 0.5 points. However, one learns from mistakes and I will be careful not to repeat it in future."
He also said that unlike the Melbourne Games in 2006 where he lacked home support, this time he was "lucky to have people supporting him and wanting him to win".
The gymnast thanked his coaches and gave part of the credit of his win to them.
"The coaches had a large role to play. Our coaches Vladimir Chertkov, Ashok Mishra and Praveen Sharma had a huge role to play. They gave us 18 months of their time and trained us," the B.A. (IInd year) student from Kanpur University said.
Ashish Kumar also heaped praise on Allahabad's National Sports Academy.
After having come this far, the teenager is now eagerly awaiting the upcoming Asian Games.
Image: Ashish Kumar