Meghana Gundlapally: The pioneer
India is one of the most populated countries in the world, but when it comes to the world of sports and athletics, they often fall short, especially in rhythmic gymnastics. However, because of Meghana Reddy Gundlapally, thankfully, India has begun to receive recognition in international competitions as Meghana continues to grow as one of the many faces of Indian sports.
The world of rhythmic gymnastics in Asia is dominated by the likes of Uzbekistan, China, Japan, and Kazakstan. India, however, is on the far end. While some argue that it is a lack of support for the athletes, others argue that it is a cultural difference; both of these angels are discussed during Meghana's interview on the 49th episode of The Globally Ballin Podcast.
“The Indian Olympic Association was not showing much interest because we were not able to give the results,” she said in the 49th episode of The Globally Ballin Podcast.
Meghana was not spared in this lack of support; this was felt more so in the beginning for Meghana when her interest in rhythmic gymnastics started. She did everything on her own including watching YouTube videos to train herself because finding a coach wasn't possible.
“I had to train internationally for most of my career because we didn’t have that [high-ranking] coach we need to be able to get that high ranking,” she added.
Listen to the full episode and interview with Meghana with the link below:
Also, Meghana admitted that even though India is the second-most populated country, sports are not something that people have much attention and interest in other than a small few sports. That is, however, until a certain sport gets a high-level of recognition.
Fortunately, her passion for the sport persisted and all her hard work continues to pay off. Ever since she started competing internationally in 2015, India has yet to be back at the bottom or last in the rankings. India is consistently improving.
When it comes to the competition itself, competitors need to squeeze 2 songs in a 1 minute and 30 seconds routine all while telling a convincing story through their performance.
“It’s a lot like a performance sport where you have to convey your emotions and your story just with the moment that you do,” Meghana said.
Because the scoring is based on how the judges view the story being told, the scoring can be quite subjective. Because of the subjective scoring, rhythmic gymnastics can be a hard sport to win.
“It can be very subjective, but also, it depends on how that athlete conveys their emotions, story, and how well can they do it without showing or putting in much effort,” she added.
For all aspiring rhythmic gymnasts, Meghana advised that the key to winning is repetition. Repetition allows for the creation of more muscle memory which is key in a performance-based sport like rhythmic gymnastics. And, of course, more repetition leads to more mistakes in training which allows the athlete to be more prepared for the actual competition.
In the end, Meghana also made it a point to discuss the vital nature of the government’s role in sports.
“They should support and transfer them to more international competition because the more exposure you get, the more competitions you played the better you play at it,” she said.
In the 2018 Commonwealth Games, India ranked 3rd with 26 gold medals. Even though Meghana did not get a podium finish, she was the only Indian representative for rhythmic gymnastics; by being the sole representative of the sport, Meghana has proven to be a pioneer of rhythmic gymnastics for the sport and her country.
This piece was written by Carla Molina, a common contributor for Globally Ballin check out the link below to see all the articles by Carla Molina that revisit past episodes of the network in bring the story of the guests to article form as well.