Name: Dipa Karmakar
Discipline (sport): Women Artistic Gymnastics
Category: Women’s Vaulting Table
Qualification: Dipa earned her Olympic berth by garnering a total score of 52.698 points and finishing fifth in the Glasgow Gymnastics World Championships.
Strengths: With relentless single minded focus for years, nothing, not even federation politics, poor equipment and the most difficult vault in artistic gymnastics could keep her away from Rio.
Past Olympic performance: Debut.
Past record (best performances): - Dipa struck gold in the vaults finals of an Olympic test event in Rio in 2016.
- She captured the attention of the gymnastics community after winning a bronze medal in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
- Dipa won the women’s vault bronze medal at the 6th Senior ART Gymnastics Asian Championships in Hiroshima, Japan.
Dipa took not just India, but the whole gymnastic community by storm in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. It wasn’t just because it was first Commonwealth medal by any Indian woman gymnast. It wasn’t just because she was also just the second Indian to claim a Commonwealth games gymnastics medal. It also wasn’t just because she later went on to compete in the World Championship in Glasgow, becoming the first Indian to appear in an apparatus final. It was because of the infamous Produnova vault.
To put the vault into perspective, people want the Produnova to be banned because of how dangerous and life threatening it is. There is a huge risk of fatal spinal injuries in attempting the maneuver. Also only five women have successfully completed the Produnova so far. It also has the highest difficulty of 7.0, making it the most difficult vault in artistic gymnastics. Dipa is one of the five women to successfully complete it.
India hasn’t managed to leave its mark in the Olympic gymnastics events since 1964, when six male athletes competed. Back then, there was no qualification system in place in gymnastics. With Dipa’s qualification, one can truly say that India has arrived in Olympic Gymnastics, that too after 52 years.
The athlete from Tripura added another feather to her gymnastics cap when she was awarded 'World Class Gymnast' or 'Gymnaste de Classe Mondaile' moniker by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). At the Rio Olympics, she will wear a gold pin given to her from FIG to mark this honour. The title is well deserved, as Dipa’s tally of medals stands at 77 now, with 67 of them being gold medals.
She dedicated her Olympic qualification and the title to her coach, Bisheshwar Nandi. He has been Karmakar's coach since she was a six-year-old. Nandi believes that Dipa's best is yet to come and that her hunger for perfection is going to take her places.
The young gymnast inspired the whole Indian populace, with everyone from Sachin Tendulkar to Amitabh Bacchan to even Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating her for her accomplishments.
Even the FIG President Bruno Grandi is excited by Dipa’s strong medal prospects, saying that he’s delighted to see India qualify a female gymnast to the Olympic Games. He added that it helps FIG’s objective of increasing the number of countries represented in gymnastics at the Olympic Games.
But despite all this recognition and the accolades she has earned so far, Dipa is still as down-to-earth as they come. The humble athlete still does not consider herself as a star sportsperson! "I am not a star. Nothing like that. I don't think on those lines. My job is to keep working harder and bring laurels for the country. Doing well in the Olympics is my immediate target now," she said.
Dipa trains for more than seven hours every day. She had to overcome a postural deformity in the form of flat feet to perfect her jumps. Dipa didn’t even have proper equipment to train with for over eight months and had to rely on personal training for the 2014 Commonwealth games. By her own admission, Dipa also has quite the temper, often at times of disagreement with her coach. But otherwise, she obeys each and every word that her coach asks of her.
Dipa’s road to Rio was paved with all these challenges, but if she improves the execution side of her performance, there is nothing that can stop her from a podium finish.
With inputs from agencies