Agartala: Dipa Karmakar, who finished a historic fourth in gymnastics at the just concluded Rio Olympics 2016, was on Monday given a rousing welcome on her return home.
Thousands of people gathered at the Swami Vivekananda stadium waving the tricolour and burst crackers to cheer Dipa, the first Indian woman gymnast to compete in Olympics and the first to do so in 52 years.
Dipa apologised to the people for her failure to bring home an Olympic medal but promised to do so the next time.
"Before going to Rio Olympic I was asked by Sports Authority of India (SAI) if I needed foreign training under a foreign coach. I had said Indian coaches have a lot of energy to train their students. I am very happy with the coaching of Bisweswar Nandi," she said.
"Sakshi and Sindhu, the two who secured medals in Rio also have Indian coaches," she said.
Expressing happiness over the performance of women atheletes from the country in the Olympics, she said, "I appeal to all – save the girl child and encourage the girl child."
Citations were given to Dipa by Tripura government and to Nandi by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and sports minister Shahid Chowdhury.
Sarkar announced that Dipa, who is now a sports officer in the department of Sports and Youth affairs, would be promoted as assistant director of the department and her coach, who is an assistant director, would be promoted as deputy director.
The chief minister also announced that the government has taken the initiative to make a world-class gymnasium where Dipa would get all facilities so that she could equip herself for the coming competitions.
"We cannot deny that infrastructure for gymnastics in Tripura is poor. Had there been better infrastructure, it is presumed that Dipa could perform better in Olympics," Sarkar said adding the the state government has appealed to the Centre for more funds to create infrastructure for sports.
"Even if the Centre does not allocate funds, we would make a world-class gymnasium for Dipa and other gymnasts to practice," he said.
Tripura Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty announced that all schools and colleges of the state would remain closed on Tuesday in honor of Dipa.
Nandi said, "Create better infrastructure, I can talk about creating more Dipas. There is no dearth of talent in gymnastics in Tripura. I promise you that I will work very hard to see Dipa in the podium in the next Olympics."
Chowdhury claimed that Dipa's participation in the Olympics had been uncertain due to infighting in Gymnastics federation.
"One group was led by the federation president and the other by its secretary. We immediately informed the matter to the union sports minister and she could finally participate," he said.