Image Credits: @Rashika
For Rashika Chauhan, a 20-year-old artistic gymnast from Haryana, the past year has seen a steady progression of steps which she hopes will lead to reaching her ultimate goal.
When she started gymnastics at the age of 8, she was a novice but thanks to attention and guidance given by her coach Mrs. Samriti Sharma, she began to show more interest and discipline in learning the sport.
Rashika’s first tryst with gymnastics came in 2010 when she emerged as the winner at the Aerobics National which was held in Gujarat. Fast forward to 2020, she is a 10-time state champion. She also participated in five school nationals and won medals too.
She also participated in the senior nationals, where played her first All-India Inter-University competition in 2018 and adjudged all-round best gymnast by capturing two gold and one bronze medal. In 2020, she has participated in Khelo India Youth Games.
The 20-year-old was adjudged the Best Gymnast in the 2018 All India Inter-University Championship at the Kurukshetra University. Rashika put up a comprehensive performance in all four segments of artistic gymnastics to help her side win the team gold in the competition.
The National Institute of Sports (NIS) trainee Rashika ticks the fundamental boxes of a modern artistic gymnast and style & elegant as you would expect from most gymnasts. The 20-year-old expressed that she is very determined to be a consistent performer in the next few years.
All the evidence points towards a gymnast with the ability to go right to the top. However, if she clings on her strong mentality and keeps on working hard, with right intentions; the future seems more than bright for Rashika.
As a young gymnast, who were some of the people that you looked up to for guidance? Who were the people you would speak with to get better at?
I grew up admiring our national gymnasts like Meenakshi Sangita AND Rohika. They were all inspiration for me. And also, International gymnast with the likes of Shawn Johnson, Aliya Mustafina, and Simone Biles. All these, I got the motivation and learned from them how to achieve your goal.
You have made pretty rapid progress, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing. What the hardships you overcome?
First and common problem of every gymnast facing in the country is that how to manage your studies and practice, because time was difficult to manage and there was no rest at all among them. Sometimes financial problems but the biggest and troublesome problem is overcoming the injury, because it requires a lot of time for the rest and recovery and a lot getting back to the training and rhythm of form.
And what did you learn from it? What keeps you going?
When I was younger, I used to go to the gym just for enjoyment and for fun. But slowly everything changed. I set my goal after playing my first competition. I have learnt a lot from gymnastics and this also brought a lot of change in my life. I got to know who I am by gymnastics, what can I do and everything. Gymnastics taught me to remain strong and confident and also gives me a different identity. I think being a gymnast is the most unique one.
Sport on an elite pathway requires dedication and commitment; aside from providing funding and transport for training, how did your parents support you emotionally pre-competition?
My parents supported me always. No pressure was ever given to me by them. They always motivate me. Actually, I used to get very nervous in competition time, so at the time my parents used to say, "don't be afraid just give your best and don't worry about the results whatever."
The first thing is that no such movement has come yet and I feel that my dreams are still and yet to complete. To accomplish this, I need a lot of practice and hard work.
We all know that you are successful in your sport. But the first win and the first medal is always special. Do you remember your 1st success as a gymnast? If yes, how will you describe that moment?
Yes, absolutely, I remember the first competition and the first medal won. I participated in a Sub-Junior School State which was held in Punjab. I received a two silver medals in floor and vaulting table respectively. Our team was in the first place. I was very happy at the time and I can't believe that. All that time, I was only 10 years old.
How do you perfect your favourite moves?
It is not easy to do gymnastics, but there are some moves which are my favourites like flicflac, somersaults and leaps. In all these moves, I am perfect that is also because I have practiced many times. After all," practice makes a man perfect".
What goes through your mind during a performance?
The only thing that goes on in my mind during the performance is that I have to do my best and I have to give my performance better than the previous competition.
How would you describe your gymnastics style, and which gymnast would you compare it to?
To be fair, I have a style of my own and I do not compare it to anyone. Everyone has their own style and quality. My flexibility is my plus point. Every gymnast is unique in her way.
Great! Let's go back to when it all began ... Tell us about how you started with gymnastics?
I started gymnastics when I was 8-years-old. And I did not know anything about gymnastics at the time. I used to go to the gym only for the sake of enjoyment. I loved to jump on the trampoline the most and taking the swing on the bar. And then, I played my first competition. After that, I set a goal of my life and started working hard to complete it. The rest of here have the NIS sports institute which is probably one of the best-known institutes around the world & I started practicing with my coach Mrs. Samriti Sharma in this institute.
Just after that, my journey started. Now I have to work more and more to accomplish what I have thought. I learnt a lot from gymnastics in my life, new friends were found and along with these new experiences were also found. Sports is my passion but gymnastics is my emotion.
We know that gymnasts are always trying to improve. What are some things you are presently working on?
What’s the toughest aspect of being a gymnast and what do you enjoy the most about it?
I love the sport with my heart and soul everything that is tough becomes easy for me. I like the style, the uniqueness & the personality that my sport has given me.
If I get such an opportunity, I would love to dance with Tiger Shroff and Nora Fatehi. Because I love their dance moves.
What is the best that Gymnastics has given you?
Gymnastics has taught me a lot. This brought a lot of change in my life and I also got to learn a lot. Gymnastics taught me how to flips how to do somersaults and also how to do hard work. How to remain brave, how to remain confident and how to face every situation gymnastics told me all this. I got new friends from gymnastics which is no less than a family for me. Energetic, I have also physically and mentally made strong. Gymnastics has given me a new and different identity, which is very unique.
What are your plans and goals for your life in gymnastics? How do you see your future in the sport? Do you plan to stay involved in gymnastics for many years?
Whatever goal I have I am working on it to complete it and I have not completed it yet. Yes, of course, I will be attached to gymnastics in due course because this is my future and it has become a very important part of my life.
What are your favourite and least favourite training sessions?
My favourite training session is summer and my least favourite session is winter.
Do you have any pre-game superstitions?
I know that I can do this skill, but still my fear becomes my superstition. Then I keep murmuring in my mind.
If you could switch lives with another athlete from a different sport, who would you want to be?
All the gymnastic are my competitor.
What's the weirdest Deja-vu experience you've encountered?
Why was the competition was my weirdest experience, because I had never performed in front of so many people before?