Figure skater Arun Rayudu eyes elusive Asian Games gold medal

Arun Kumar Rayudu, one of India's best figure skaters. (PC: Arun Kumar Rayudu)
Arun Kumar Rayudu, one of India's best figure skaters. (PC: Arun Kumar Rayudu)

In India, roller skating is synonymous with Arun Rayudu, a versatile figure skater who is one of the best in the business. Ranked second in the senior category, Arun Rayudu is a silver medalist at the Asian level.

Arun Rayudu boasts 14 national titles and has been representing India since 2014. He is also a three-time All-India Inter-University champion.

The figure skating champion has now set his sights on the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 10 to 25 next year.

The Visakhapatnam skater has had to overcome a number of adversities - from injuries to battling health concerns. He has, however, taken it all in his stride and surged ahead with passion and talent.

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As the State Roller Skating Championships and the National Skating Championships beckon, Rayudu hopes to hone his skills further and cement his place in the Indian team for the Asian Games.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, Arun Rayudu opened up on a variety of topics.

Here are the excerpts:

Q: How did you venture into roller skating?

A: My relationship with skating began at a very young age. I was introduced to the sport when I was three years old. As a child, speed thrilled me.

While traveling in a car I would look at people moving forward at a pace faster than we can go while showing no sign of running. It intrigued me. I immediately asked my parents to get me whatever it is that’s making people move that way and my parents enrolled me in a skating academy upon my wishes.

Q: How are the facilities and competitions for the sport in India?

A: An incredibly honest answer would be that the facilities in India for our sport are not as efficient as we’d like them to be. In most international competitions the platform where we are to perform is a wooden floor. The texture of that flooring is very different from the ones we practice in India, which have cement flooring, making it very tough to train efficiently as the techniques would vary a great deal based on the kind of flooring we perform on.

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All the international competitions are held in September and October before which it’s the monsoons in India right when it’s a prime time for us to train as much as we can. The lack of an indoor skating rink makes it very tough to get in as much training as we can. When it rains and the floor is wet, we miss the training needed to perform well in the international championships.

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Q: What are some of the necessities before one takes up skating?

A: Some basic necessities that newbies need before taking up skating would be a good pair of roller skates. For safety they need a helmet, kneecaps and elbow pads and most importantly the enthusiasm to learn and put in the effort.

Q: Endurance or skill, what is more important in roller skating? How do you hone it?

A: I would say both. The capacity to withstand the amount of intense training that we’d have to go through to be fit enough for the sport is as important as the expertise it takes to perform the elements with the right technique and gracefully.

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Q: What are your future tournaments/ goals?

A: My current goal is to participate in the 19th Asian Games that is to be conducted in September 2022 and win the gold medal for our country.

Q: Do you believe skating is getting as much attention as you’d love it to get?

A: The origin of the sport lies in Europe and hence the recognition or the popularity of the sport in general in India is not as wide. But in recent years a gradual improvement in the popularity and enthusiasm for the sport has been observed.

In the last couple of years over 5,000 skaters have participated in the National Championships which is quite the change but just not enough. I personally have been trying to promote the sport and bring it recognition as much as I possibly can. At the end of the day we want skating and skaters to be treated on par with all the sports and athletes in India.

Q: Coming from a family of sportsmen, is it easy for you to adjust to the demands of the sport and manage the adversities?

A: A huge part of my family has been involved in sports. My grandfather was a wrestler and my uncles were basketball players. This has personally been quite advantageous for me as it was a thrill for them to guide me and help me achieve my dream of getting medals for the country. They coached me and pushed me on the right path whenever I needed it. My parents and my family are my biggest support squad.

Also, every sport has its own adversities. How we deal with it is how the results come out to be. If adversities can stop you, if they overpower the love you have for the sport, there’s no meaning in pursuing the sport anymore.

Q: What are your future ambitions in skating?

A: Like I’ve mentioned before - participating in the 19th Asian Games and winning the gold medal for India and making our nation proud. I believe in short-term goals as they improve our clarity on the overall plan.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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