Image Credits: @Aditee Dandekar
A name known to many in the Indian gymnastics circuit over the past few years, Aditee Dandekar has finally exploded into the talent many thought she’d be a little earlier. She is a star already yet so humble and has every gymnast in India and other countries keeping one eye on her progress.
Usually, modern rhythmic gymnasts are characterized by their incredible balance, flexibility, coordination and strength, but Aditee’s discipline, attentiveness and self-presentation makes her one of a pretty special talent. She knows what routine to execute on the territory, she knows how to surprise judges, and she knows when to show her elegance, artistry and mastering complex apparatus. This intelligence, combined with her explosiveness and determination, make her one of the most complete rhythmic gymnasts in the country.
Aditee grew up on the vibrant city of Mumbai training in the Varsha Upadhye’s Premier Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy. Inspired by Kshipra Joshi and Sadichchha Kulkarni, she learned what it meant to be a winner and resilient, where it wasn’t necessarily about development.
From a young age, her coaches knew Aditee was bound to be a star. She busted onto the scene and was known as a top prospect in the youth system, representing India at the Senior Asian Championship 2016, Uzbekistan.
With grit, humility, and a hunger to improve, Aditee’s form and ability kept on getting better in the following years, as she become the first ever Indian Rhythmic Gymnast to secure rank 23 at the Asian level in 2019 in the Senior age group.
Throughout the years, Aditee grew exponentially under the watchful eye of coach Mrs. Varsha Upadhye.
Initially, she was jittery and nervous, but grew in stature over the years. She saw her finest performances in the Khelo India Youth Games, with an extremely impressive performance, she was recognised as the all-around champion for the consecutive years 2019 and 2020, maintaining the highest rank in India today.
Aditee also represented India at the World Championship 2018, Sofia, Bulgaria and World Challenge Cup 2018, Minsk, Belarus. Not only that, she is also the recipient of prestigious Shiv Chhatrapati Puraskar Award from the Maharashtra govt. for her promising and exemplary foray into gymnastics at a young age.
The former Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College student has shared a platform with the all-time stars such as the Averina twins from Russia and Linoy Ashram from Israel and many more.
Exceptionalism, perfection, artistry, and pride all symbolize Rhythmic Gymnastics, and all of these attributes can be seen in the rising persona of Aditee Dandekar.
How did you first get into gymnastics? What are your first memories about the time when you knew this would be something you pursued?
I was just 5 years old when my mom took me to an annual sports summer camp besides the academy I currently practice at (Varsha Upadhye’s Premier Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy). I watched other girls train there and was so fascinated that I decided to join.
Who were your gymnastics idols when you first became interested in the sport? What was is about their character or achievements that you admired?
As I was too young when I joined the sports, my role models were my seniors, Kshipra Joshi and Sadichchha Kulkarni. Both have represented India at World level back in their time. I have seen them work so hard and sacrifice so many things which was really inspiring.
What is the toughest aspect of being a gymnast and what do you enjoy the most about it?
You must have competed alongside some good names already, who would be your ultimate competitor?
I have shared a platform with the all-time stars such as the Averina twins from Russia and Linoy Ashram from Israel and many more. It has been inspiring and intimidating at the same time to compete with such stars. However, at the end of the day my goal is to better myself each time I am on the competition floor.
Competing at such a young age, how did you juggle studies with sport? How was the support from your school/college towards your sport?
Oh! It was a rollercoaster. There were ups, downs, and loops. The funny thing is though no matter how scary the rollercoaster is, you can't wait for the next ride. My college (Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai) has been nothing but supportive throughout my career so far. I am really grateful to all my professors. They have helped me maintain the balance between both.
Throughout your gymnastics career what do you think was the hardest hurdle to get over? Where did you have to really push yourself and why?
The Diet! I am a foodie by nature but there is no gain without pain.
Is it important to have a favourite routine you do in practice of gymnastics? If yes, what’s yours then?
It is not important to have a favourite routine but I enjoy practicing Ribbon apparatus the most.
Your funniest gymnastics experience?
There was this one time my teammates and I were completely exhausted from the training and were singing our hearts out and my senior had recorded it without us noticing and till this date we all enjoy watching that clip.
What important lessons have helped you progress up the gymnastics ladder?
Perseverance, confidence in yourself, focus, discipline and coordination with my coach Mrs. Varsha Upadhye.
If you could dance with any celebrity, who would that be and why?
Nora Fatehi. She is an excellent dancer. I could learn so much from her!
Many say that gymnastics is not just a sport, but an art form that’s what requires athletic ability and flexibility. What do you say about that?
Rhythmic Gymnastics is a woman oriented, Olympic recognized sport. It is a combination of strength, flexibility, body coordination, grace and style. It involves a lot colour, music along with strong gymnastics skills.
In your professional career, which has been 2 standout moments that have made you feel on top of the world?
1) Securing 23rd rank on Asian level in 2019. I am the first ever Indian Rhythmic Gymnast to reach this mark in the Senior age group.
2) Being recognised as the all-around champion at the Khelo India Youth Games for consecutive years 2019 and 2020, maintaining the highest rank in India today.
What targets are you setting yourself?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic my dream to represent India at the Senior Asian Championship, Japan is still put on hold. Looking forward to that.
What's the weirdest deja-vu experience you've encountered?
Once at a competition I felt like I have already been to that stadium, when it was my first time!
If you could eat one thing forever what would it be?
Do you have any pre-game superstitions?
Talking to myself and remembering instructions my coach tells me
Top tracks you listen to?
Aas paas hai khuda, Firework