Gymnastic in Bharat, is not as significant as Cricket, Hockey or Tennis and thus is not very popular too. But the ace performance of Dipa Karmakar, a girl from the city of Agartala in Tripura has pushed gymnastics in the headlines. Dipa has become the first Bharatiya female gymnast to qualify for an Olympic, when she made it to the Rio Olympics. Not only this, after taking up the pride of qualifying, she won the gold medal in the Vault competition of Olympic training. This is the first gold medal by any female gymnast on the international stage. Dipa reached the feat by defeating the silver medallist of Beijing Olympic (2008) Oksana of Uzbekistan. Hailing from Agartala, she qualified for Rio in artistic gymnastics by scoring a superb 52.698 points. Dipa achieved 15.066 points in Vault which was the best among the competing 14 gymnasts. Even after not performing up to the mark in uneven bar, she bounced back in beam and floor exercises and didn’t allow the ticket to Rio to pass off. Dipa also had an opportunity to secure a ticket to Olympic in last year’s Glasgow world championship, but she failed.
Produnova Vault made her qualify
Dipa made her way to Olympic by performing over the very difficult Produnova Vault. A gymnast has to make not one but three summersaults in it. Even one unbalanced step in this vault can put the career on the lines due to injury. Produnova, a move that Karmakar has mastered is considered the most dangerous move in gymnastics. A bad landing could result in paralysis or death. There have been demands to ban it down due to its dangers. Around the world, only four or five gymnasts have expertise in this. This vault has been named after Russian gymnast Yelena Produnova. This Russian gymnast performed this vault in an international competition in 1999.
When Dipa was seven, her father Dulal Karmakar had many sleepless nights after he admitted her in a Bengali medium school. He was preoccupied with this worry that whether putting Dipa in a Bengali medium school, when her elder sister Puja was studying in an English medium school was just or not? But Dipa ever since childhood has been someone with clear thoughts. After being asked repeatedly by her father, she straight away claimed that to be in an English medium school would mean separation from gymnast. Being in Bengali medium won’t be a trouble on attendance issue, and she would focus completely on her gymnastic exercises.
How she came to gymnastics
Dipa’s father Dulal Karmakar was a coach with Sports Authority of India (SAI). He wanted Dipa to be a gymnast. Hence he took her to gymnastic coach Bishbeshwar Nandi. Nandi first showed inadvertency seeing Dipa’s flat foot. But later with huge efforts and labour worked it out. Actually if a gymnast has a flat foot (sole), it doesn’t functions as a spring when a jump is taken. He is still with Dipa, and was present when history was being made for Rio.
Committed and Stubborn in nature
Father Dulal and elder sister Puja both agree that she is extremely committed and stubborn in nature for what she aim once, she achieves it. Puja informs that, “when she was nine years old, she made it a point to cut the cake on her birthday after doing evening gymnastic exercises, and she did exactly the same.”
Dulal says that until she is not confident about achieving a goal, she doesn’t moves ahead for it. But once it is decided she doesn’t rests till the goal is reached. He says, “Winning Olympic medal is Dipa’s dream, and having qualified for the event makes it half true. And rest will be accomplished with the win.”
Inspiration from Ashish
Dipa was also a member of the team which participated in Commonwealth Games when it was organised in Bharat in 2010. Here, Ashish Kumar became the first Bharatiya gymnast to win a medal. Dipa had vowed then to repeat the same performance. After four years, Dipa succeeded in winning bronze medals in Glasgow Commonwealth games and then Asian games. Dipa and Ashish are good friends and they are also the centre of nation’s hopes in gymnastics.
Thus came the opportunity
Earlier Dipa was not listed in the competitor’s list for qualifying rounds. It was because she stood at 26th position in Glasgow World Championship, and she was placed as a second reserve. But after North Korea didn’t participate in the event, it made Dipa come in and she made the most of this opportunity for her. In the midst, with two sporting federations in the country now, both wanted Dipa to participate in respective national championship. Dipa avoided all these distractions and took permission from SAI to focus on training games.
Know about our Country’s Phenomenal Gymnast
- As a child, Dipa had flat feet which make her achievements even more commendable
- Dipa Karmakar began Gymnastics at the age of 5
- Since 2007, she has won 77 medals in state, national and international championships
- Dipa’s bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth games was the first won by any Bharatiya woman gymnast
- She was the first Bharatiya woman gymnast to appear in the World Championship in Glasgow