With Dipa Karmakar’s Olympic qualifying, in a conversation with Dr Gurdial Singh Bawa, who has been associated with her as a coach through SAI Gymnastic Centre, situated in Indira Gandhi Stadium. Excerpts:
What will you say about Dipa’s huge success?
Dipa is the first gymnast to qualify for Olympics. Hence she must be lauded for her talent and conviction. Yes, it must be added that she is not the first Indian gymnast to participate in Olympics. In 1952, 1956 and 1964, some 11 Indian gymnasts have participated. It must be added though that there was no qualifying process then. Qualifier arrangement began in 1976, and after that she is the first to acquire a ticket for Olympics, and of course, the first female.
Why don’t we get promising gymnasts of global standards?
For once, gymnastics is not considered as important as other games in the country. And thus, there are no sufficient facilities like other games. It then results in no jobs for gymnasts and they don’t even find sponsors. If job opportunities are made available, we can eye on better results.
Is insufficiency of foreign coaches a reason for poor performance?
I think there is no need of foreign coaches. There is no hand of any foreign coach in Dipa Karmakar’s success. She has been participating in this training camp since 2013. Participation in competitions under training camp and tours has gone on. But it is solely the Indian coaches who have prepared her.
Is India lacking in facilities for gymnastics?
There are modern facilities in Indira Gandhi stadium centre. Therefore, there is no difficulty in training Indian gymnasts. Our major problem is absence of facilities in the states. This leads to the concentration of talents at just one place. If states are also provided with better facilities, we can have better results. Also, there have been lesser tournaments in the country, which seeks attention. And if we get decent sponsors, we can send our gymnasts in international tournaments for participation and experience, and it will obviously lead to better results.