The energetic 22-year-old girl from Tripura, Dipa Karmakar gave new birth to the Indian gymnast. Apart from being the first Indian woman, she also became first from the country to qualify for the Olympics after 52 long years. After returning from Rio de Janeiro, Dipa spoke to Ashwani Mishra about her achievements. Excerpts:
Congratulations for qualifying for the Olympic Games. You are the first Indian lady gymnast to qualify for Olympics and there are high hopes from you. Tell us how are you training to win a medal for India?
Thank You. First of all I want to thank everyone for their blessings. As far as the future is concerned, it’s very tough path ahead. I have to train hard for Olympics. Whatever my coach decides I will do and put my heart and soul into it.
As a child you were flat-footed, how tough was it to become a gymnast? Take us through your struggles.
Yes, my foot was flat but I was unaware of that. I had only one goal in my mind that to be a gymnast. When my father took me to the coach, he suggested not to opt gymnastics because of my flat-foot but later my father forced him to train me. Finally, he took it as a challenge and decided to train me. He knows that being a flat-footed girl it will be very difficult for me to run and jump. Later, because of his efforts and my hard labour, I can manage to do all the things. This achievement is all because of my efforts and hard labour.
Who inspired you to take up gymnastics?
My father is a Weightlifting coach. He always used to say that you can be a gymnast. Later his words started encouraging me and one day I decided that I will be a gymnast and fulfill my father’s dreams. Along with my father, my coach Bishbeshwar Nandi always motivated me. Because of his training, today I am a successful gymnast.
Tell us about the role of your coach Bishbeshwar Nandi in your life?
I just want to say, I have got a great mentor because of whom, I am here. Without him I am nothing in this world and I would never have reached anywhere.
Gymnastics is not as popular as a game like Cricket in India. What steps would you suggest to popularise gymnastics?
I would like to tell people first they should do something spectacular in their field to attract everyone’s attention. First we have to prove ourselves, then the government will automatically pay attention towards you. It is true that gymnasts need encouragement from the government machinery. State level sports federations should allocate special funds for the same. If people like us, who have carved out something on our own, get similar facilities like other sports then there will be no dearth of talent. If there is one gymnast who has qualified for Olympics in 2016, by 2020 there will be atleast 3 gymnasts participating in the premier sports event.
What are your hobbies apart from gymnastics?
My only hobby is gymnastics, gymnastics, and gymnastics.