New Delhi: A new video of two school students in uniform performing back flips and cartwheels has taken the internet by storm, even gaining a nod from ace gymnast and five-time Olympic gold medalist Nadia Elena Comaneci.
Nadia, who scored a perfect 10 in gymnastics at the 1976 Olympics, retweeted the video, calling it “awesome”.
This is awesome pic.twitter.com/G3MxCo0TzG
— Nadia Comaneci (@nadiacomaneci10) August 29, 2019
Other fans of the talented children, who are yet to be identified, include Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who shared the video with a promise to get them to a gymnastics academy.
These kids are raw talents. Will get them connected to a gymnastic academy if someone brings them to me. https://t.co/Nj5CWuT1KG
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) August 26, 2019
However, his tweet evoked a lot of criticism over the need for the Indian sports ministry to aggressively conduct talent hunts in every sport, even at the grassroots level, instead of waiting for people to connect “raw talent” with them.
One user said, “You have all govt resources at your disposal yet someone should bring them to you? Ridiculous!”
Lacking a mainstream following
The Indian sports infrastructure has time and again been accused of an outsize focus on cricket, which enjoys an almost religious fervour among the masses. Gymnastics, on the other hand, is yet to gain a mainstream following in the country.
The sport got some recognition during the 2016 Rio Olympics as Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the competition, attempted the risky ‘Produnova’. She was subsequently awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Shri.
Meanwhile, Indians are slowly waking up to sports other than cricket amid a series of sterling performances by compatriots on the international stage.
Badminton star P.V. Sindhu clinched a gold at the World Championships this week — becoming the first Indian to emerge as a world champion in the sport — while para badminton player Manasi Joshi also made history by bagging another gold for India.
Sumit Nagal, 22, also caught the nation’s attention after a match against world champion Roger Federer at the US Open, where he took a set off the latter before losing the match and exiting the tournament.