On the eve of India's Independence Day, Dipa Karmakar had her tryst with destiny. Born in a humble Agartala home, Karmakar was not expected to reach where she has. But she was surely destined to do so. And once she reached Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games, she made sure there were no mistakes. Just that she missed by a whisker.
No bragging, no excuses — just a plain and simple heart-to-heart talk was the order, as she came to the mixed zone to face the media soon after her brilliant performance on Sunday night. Though she will return home empty-handed, she said she was extremely happy with her performance. The much-wanted and talked about "foreign exposure" she received was the journey from Tripura to the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi.
As if to promote Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' dictum to the core, she trained in the capital. And as Modi wanted Indian athletes to win hearts ("Dil jeet kar aao," he had said), she won hearts both in India and in Brazil. Just that many of the jumbo 121-strong contingent from India forgot about the medals and looked for hearts instead. It is a different matter that they failed in both.
While Karmakar was all set to take her first jump, an American photographer, standing in the pit at the arena, took his camera off his sight. Following her attempt, he sheepishly tried to keep her in his sights. Later, when the 23-year-old girl was given a warm hug by coach Bisheshwar Nandi, the photographer had another arrow to shoot. "Hey, do you hug a woman in public in India?" he asked. I reminded him it was Father's Day in Brazil!
The same photographer then offered me a decent amount for a picture in which I got Nandi giving an affectionate peck to Dipa. Only if I could tell him that hundreds and thousand of Indians must have blown flying kisses to her while watching her deeds on live TV transmission in the middle of the night.
Dipa's successes in Rio would surely inspire Indians back home. Gymnastics is considered a compulsory sport in several countries. In India, officials of the split Gymnastics Federation are far more acrobatic than the gymnasts. Still not convinced? You must go to the Delhi airport when the new queen of Indian sport returns from Rio.