World Mallakhamb Championship: Italy's Delia Ceruti's journey from acts to asanas

Updated: Feb 14, 2019, 10:16 IST | Subodh Mayure

Circus artist from Italy, Delia Ceruti gears up for a different challenge at the World Mallakhamb Championship which gets underway this weekend

World Mallakhamb Championship: Italy's Delia Ceruti's journey from acts to asanas
Delia Ceruti at practice in Shivaji Park yesterday. Pic/Subodh Mayure

Around two weeks ago, Italy's Delia Ceruti, a circus artist by profession, knew nothing about mallakhamb. Today, Ceruti, 36, after spending numerous hours across the last 12 days, training at the Shri Samarth Vyayam Mandir in Shivaji Park in preparation for the World Mallakhamb Championship over the weekend, is ready to challenge the Indians at their game, according to veteran coach and secretary of Vishwa Mallakhamb Federation (VMF), Uday Deshpande.

Ceruti, who has showcased her aerial acrobatics in over 100 circus acts, was in Spain last month to participate in a contemporary dance show. Thereafter, she returned to Italy to be a part of a hair suspension show, where she suspended her body using her hair. A few days before arriving in India, on February 1, she was back in Spain for a circus performance. She's all excited about her maiden World Mallakhamb Championship now.

No medal expectations
"[Before arriving in India] I contacted Uday [Deshpande] and requested him to teach me mallakhamb. Though there are a few similarities between some of my circus acts and the asanas, mallakhamb is a totally new challenge for me, especially pole mallakhamb. I have a lot to learn, so I'm not expecting a medal at this World Championship. For now, I only want to learn and enjoy the sport," Ceruti told mid-day yesterday.

Deshpande however, felt Ceruti can be a threat to the Indians. "She [Ceruti] is a professional circus artist. Though pole mallakhamb is new for her, she has been doing similar acts [asanas] on the rope. I have seen her working hard over the last 12 days. She is a quick learner, dedicated and fearless. Mallakhamb may be new to her but she is not new to acrobatics and that makes her a definite threat to the others in the competition, including the Indians," he said.

'Indian girls are great'
Meanwhile, Ceruti is impressed with the numerous young mallakhamb aspirants doing the hard yards in Shivaji Park. "Indian girls are great. Even at the age of four they are doing mallakhamb so effortlessly. It's very inspiring to see such small children perform at such a good level. It motivates me to work harder and perform better," said Ceruti.

'National Games should include Mallakhamb'
Uday Deshpande, the first Shiv Chhatrapati Lifetime Achievement awardee in mallakhamb, has urged the authorities to include the sport at the National Games. "We are trying to make mallakhamb a global sport, but here, it's not even a part of our National Games.

Only once mallakhamb is included in our National Games, can we think about its inclusion in the Asian Games and Olympics. Sadly, mallakhamb is not even a part of the Inter-University Ashwamedh Krida Spardha, which is on in Mumbai currently. In inter-school sport, there is only one category (U-19). There should be categories right from the U-14 level, just like other sports," Deshpande told mid-day yesterday.

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