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Commonwealth Games 2018: India's only rhythmic gymnast in Gold Coast Meghana Reddy left to train alone after no accreditation for coach

Soumo Ghosh
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Exclusive
8.14K   //    11 Apr 2018, 20:57 IST

Meghana Gunglapally Reddy with her coach Varvara Filiou
Meghana Gundlapally Reddy with her coach Varvara Filiou

Meghana Reddy Gundlapally set her foot in Australia, knowing that she would be the sole representative of her sport from India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

However, little did she know that this was one of the few positives that she would get during her stay Down Under.

Both Meghana and her Greek coach Varvara Filiou received a major shock after they landed in Australia, as they were told that the latter did not have access to the Commonwealth Games Village, or its training facilities.

"Generally, they're supposed to give accreditation to both the athlete and her coach to stay in the Games Village. But only Mghana got the accreditation, I did not," Filiou, who is herself a former Olympian, said to Sportskeeda. "We have contacted the IOA, and the federation, but the only thing that we have come to know is that my name was not included as a coach in the contingent."

A similar incident had taken place with India's badminton star Saina Nehwal, who had requested for her father Dr Harvir Singh to be included as an official in the contingent, in order to take moral support from him.

On finding out that her father did not have access to the Village, a terse letter, presumably to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) seemed to have done the trick, as Dr Singh's accreditation was soon restored.

Also Read: After Saina Nehwal threatens to pull out, IOA clears her father's Gold Coast accreditation

The case seems to be different for Meghana and her coach Varvara, however. Being denied an accreditation to the Games Village, especially for a coach, could lead to a lot of complications ahead of a major tournament, despite the fact that Athletes are allowed to entertain visitors if the latter avail day passes.

The "visitors" (in this case, Meghana's coach) are not given access to the training area, which means that Meghana was left to train alone in the week leading up to her big event.

"She was basically living in the village alone, without any coach to help her during training ahead of her competition," said Filiou. "For an entire week, she stayed there alone, trained alone, and on the day of the competition, she competed alone. She even had to file her own paperwork ahead of the competition, something that an athlete should not be worrying about, ahead of a competition.

"All I want to know is, who is responsible for this? Because all the other gymnasts had the best of coaches by their side, while my gymnast had to do it all alone," she said.

With such obvious difficulties, it was natural to not expect much of Meghana from the Rhythmic Gymnastics Sub Division 1 Rotation 1 Team Finals and Individual Qualification event.

However, the girl from Hyderabad still managed to turn a few eyeballs, as she secured an 18th-place finish. This essentially puts her second on the list of reserves, which means that Meghana may still have a chance of participating in the Final on Wednesday if two other gymnasts pull out.

"I am very proud of Meghana. She has been away from her family and friends for months, she’s sacrificed o much, put in so many hours every day. But in the end, she could not make it because someone made a mistake somewhere, and she was left alone," Filiou continued.

"I only got to see her a couple of times. The rest of the time, we have just been talking over the phone," Filiou further said. "Even when she was competing, I was constantly with her on the phone. That made it really difficult for Megg."

Sportskeeda had earlier reported about the difficulties that both Meghana and Filiou have had to face, in order to get the proper finances to fund the training regime of the gymnast. However, even a historic first appearance in her category at the Games does not seem to be enough to attract the attention of those who decide who will, and who will not comprise the Indian contingent at prestigious multi-sport events.

Also Read: After step-motherly treatment, India's best rhythmic gymnast Meghana Gundlapally excels in exile






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Soumo Ghosh
FEATURED COLUMNIST
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