Rio de Janeiro: She has already grabbed a piece of history by becoming the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics and Dipa Karmakar would aim to touch greater heights when she competes at the Rio Games, here tomorrow.
Fighting all odds, the 22-year-old diminutive girl from Tripura had qualified for the Olympics at this very venue in April. She has given her soul into mastering the highly difficult Produnova — a double front somersault vault — and is relying on it for a super show.
She says she has done about 1000 repetitions of the move so the key for her would be do well in the uneven bars, beam and floor exercises. “I’ve seen her tremendous hard work and determination. Initially I was scared when she tried it but her never-say-die attitude makes her confident. We just need to stay focused,” her coach Bisweshwar Nandi said.
Dipa does not like to sit back on her laurels and knows well what her focus should be, an Olympic medal to create a gymnastics revolution back home. After all, she has had several firsts. Dipa was the first Indian female gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow 2014) and followed it up with bronze at the Asian Championships in Hiroshima. She also reached the final round of the 2015 World Championships and finished fifth.
Daughter of a weightlifting coach, Dipa won five gold medals at the 2015 National Games in Kerala — in individual all-round, table vault, balancing beam, uneven parallel bars and floor exercises and was one of the top medal winners at the event. Later in the year, she won a bronze medal at the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Japan.
Dipa, who has been practicing gymnastics since the age of six, had to train extra hard because she had flat feet. As a 14-year-old, she won the Junior Nationals held in Jalpaiguri. Participating in state, national and international championships, Dipa has so far won 77 medals including 67 gold.
Focused on the sport since the day she saw Ashish Kumar win a medal in Commonwealth Games New Delhi 2010, Dipa trains about eight hours a day in two sessions at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi where she has a special equipment.