New Delhi: Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Rio Olympics, 52 years on from the last time the country had gymnastic representation at the Summer Games. Previously, six gymnasts participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, three in Melbourne 1956 and two in Helsinki 1952.
Overall, 11 Indian male gymnasts have taken part in the Olympics but 22-year-old Dipa will be the first woman to represent India at the Games. Her strong performance at the final qualifying and test event in Rio de Janeiro paved the way for the quadrennial extravaganza.
Dipa had earlier created history by winning bronze in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to win a medal. Later that year she won bronze at the Asian Championships in Hiroshima. In 2015, this daughter of a weightlifting coach, won five gold medals at the 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.