Dipa Karmakar targets Tokyo 2020; says she aims to take on reigning champion Simone Biles

Kolkata: Ace Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who finished a historic fourth in Rio Olympics vault, aspires to beat reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles of US in Tokyo Games four years later.

File photo of Dipa Karmakar. Reuters

File photo of Dipa Karmakar. Reuters

"My next aim is to beat Simone Biles in Tokyo 2020, that's my target. I know very well that if I aspire to beat the champion, I would at least finish with a gold or silver," the 23-year-old who was given a golden crown at a felicitation ceremony of FD Block Sarbojanin Puja Committee said.

Post Rio, Dipa has been on the road attending various felicitation ceremonies across India but the diminutive Agartala gymnast said she was on track and her fitness training has already begun for the last two weeks.

"This is my rest period which will go on till the Durga Puja festival. For the first time in five years I would be able to spend time with family during the Puja festival. But my fitness training has begun, I'm training about four hours in the evening," she said.

"I'm getting this overwhelming support from billions of countrymen without winning a medal. This is not an added pressure but a motivation for Tokyo."

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dipa finished fourth in the women's vault final in the artistic gymnastics.

She scored an average of 15.066 points, a mere 0.15 less than the eventual bronze medal winner Giulia Steingruber (15.216) of Switzerland and Dipa said she could only realise the significance of her performance only after reaching India.

"I never expected so much of outpouring of support. I remember telling my parents don't worry about my return I would take an autorickshaw from airport. Little did I know that thousands would gather to receive me. I realised it only after reaching," she said. Yesterday at the capital she had a special guest in a film legend and her favourite actor Amitabh Bachchan who also motivated her to go for a medal in Tokyo.

"I was so pleasantly surprised to see him at an event in Delhi. I asked him whether I can click photo with him, and his reply was 'click 10 photos, I will wait 30 minutes for you but win us a medal in the next Olympics'," she said.

Asked whether she would think of marriage after Tokyo, Dipa said: "My career has just started. I will give my best to win medal in Tokyo. It's just the beginning and marriage can wait."

Citing the example of silver medallist PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, she said: "They won under Indian coaches so did I. I wouldn't have been here without my coach Nandi Sir (Bisheshwar Nandi). Our show has proved that Indian coaches are no different than foreign coaches. I would say an Indian coach would work harder to keep the tricolour higher."

Dipa, who had scored 14.850 in the qualifying round, executed the Produnova, which consists of a front handspring and two front somersaults, levelled as the 'death vault'.

It is so difficult and has the extreme difficulty score, that even its inventor, Elena Produnova, landed it standing up just once in her career and many stay away from performing it.

"Every sport has a risk factor. Even in cricket if the ball hits the head anything can happen. It's how you master it. I've trained so hard under my coach that I never feared it," she added.

Updated Date: Sep 19, 2016 09:38 AM

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