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Updated January 20th, 2024 at 23:41 IST

Tamil Nadu’s gymnastics prodigy hopes to realise Olympic dream via the Khelo India platform

Fourteen-year-old Oceana Reena Thomas created history at the Junior Artistic Gymnastics National Championships in December 2023.

Reported by: Republic Sports Desk
Reena Thomas
Reena Thomas | Image:Special Arrangement
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Fourteen-year-old Oceana Reena Thomas created history at the Junior Artistic Gymnastics National Championships in December 2023 when she became Tamil Nadu’s first-ever junior national gold medalist at Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

Now, Oceana will carry the state’s medal hopes in the gymnastics arena at the 6th Khelo India Youth Games 2023. And though repeating her last month’s feat in front of her home crowd is her priority, the class 10th student is already looking at the Khelo India platform as a stepping stone for much higher dreams.

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“I am hoping that the platform, the training and the cash prizes, if I win any, can be put into further training for realising the Olympic dream,” says Oceana, who dropped out of regular schooling to focus on her training and moved to the High-Performance Centre at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.

Training under coaches Ashok Mishra and Amany Gouda from Egypt, her day begins with training session at 6 am and ends with another session from 3.30-7 with recovery sessions in between.

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Asked about the challenges of staying away from her family, which is based in Chennai, the teenager said that was a price she has to pay in pursuit of higher glory. The gold medal winning performance on the Balance Beam in the Nationals did prove that she is on the right track.

Reflecting on the win, the 14-year-old said, “It was quite unexpected. But I am happy to have won it since I missed out on the sub-junior championship.”

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Speaking about her initiation into gymnastics, Oceana said she was naturally inclined towards sports right from childhood as her mother Nisha is a former sprinter who represented Tamil Nadu during her school days and her elder sister Savanna is into competitive horse riding.

“Initially, it was cartwheeling, then ballet and finally, it led to gymnastics,” she added.

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Speaking about her targets for the Khelo India Games 2023, Oceana said she was excited but also nervous as she would be performing on a much bigger platform and competing against more experienced opponents. “But I am determined to give my best and win medals for the state,” she said.

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Published January 20th, 2024 at 23:41 IST

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