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Explained: Despite Topping Trails, Dipa Karmakar Denied Spot at Asian Games

Dipa Karmakar even took to social media to criticise the Sports Ministry's new selection criteria.

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It was set to be her big comeback. Having missed out on years of competition first due to an injury and then a doping ban, Dipa Karmakar was supposed return to the big stage at the 2023 Asian Games. And she did everything that was required of her to make the cut.

She topped the trials, got the approval of her federation, but was ultimately denied a ticket to Hangzhou for the event starting 23 September by the Sports Ministry.

Dipa even took to social media to share her concerns saying, "To my surprise, despite topping the national trials and meeting the selection criteria, it appears that I will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the 19th Asian Games."

So, why is she being denied an outing at the Asian Games?

The Quint explains:

Explained: Despite Topping Trails, Dipa Karmakar Denied Spot at Asian Games

  1. 1. Did Dipa Make The Cut For The Asian Games?

    The face of Indian gymnastics, the one who introduced the country to the sport after finishing a historic fourth at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Dipa Karmakar now finds her comeback effort steamrolled by the Sports Ministry after they rejected the Gymnastics Federation of India's selection recommendations for the Asian Games.

    Dipa has been out of action since 2017 due to injuries, following which she was handed a 21 month doping suspension which ended on 10 July, 2023. Making her eligible to compete in the national trials. In a notification dated 22 May, her name was in the list of shortlisted 'core probables' and at the 11 & 12 June trials, she finished as the country's top contender for a gymnastics medal in Hangzhou.

    Dipa topped the trials with an all round score of 47.05. Pranati Das scored 45.80 while Pranati Nayak skipped the trials and used her score from the Asian Championship in Singapore, 44.43, for her qualification score.

    Nine gymnasts made the cut in the Gymnastic Federation of India's final list. However, in the Sports Ministry's final list, only Pranati Nayak was named.

    Expand
  2. 2. Then Why Isn't She Being Sent?

    Despite topping the qualification and her name being approved by the Gymnastics Federation of India, the Sports Ministry rejected Dipa's entry based on a qualification rule set on 10 July, 2023 that requires all athletes' going to these Asian Games to have a better performance in the last 12 months, than the 8th placed athlete of their event at the 2018 Asian Games.

    “In individual events during the last 12 months prior to the commencement of the event (Asian Games), the performance of the sportspersons should not be less than the performance achieved by the eighth position holder of the 2018 Asian Games in measurable sports," states the Sports Ministry's new selection criteria.

    Dipa, having missed out on competitive action for over six years, does not have an official score in the last 12 months thus, ruling her out of contention for the Asian Games, according to the Sports Ministry's new guidelines.

    With the rule being introduced only last month, the GFI also protested the rejection of seven of their athletes.

    “We reviewed the evaluation by the SAI officials and realised that the SAI officials used an entirely new criteria to evaluate the gymnasts which was not consistent with the criteria published by the MYAS. Such an inconsistency in application of selection criteria is resulting in elimination of established gymnasts like Dipa Karmakar, Rakesh Patra, Yogeshwar Singh etc, who have already proved their capability and fulfil the criteria published by MYAS,” said a letter by the federation.

    Expand
  3. 3. Who Is Going?

    As mentioned earlier, only one gymnast has made the Sports Ministry's qualification mark, Pranati Nayak. However, as pointed out by Dipa's coach Bisweshwar Nandi to Indian Express, if the Sports Ministry's new guidelines are to be followed, even her score would not make the qualification mark.

    "I have nothing against Pranati Nayak, but her June Asian Championship score in All around (44.432) or the Vault (12.733 in Qualification and 12.417 in Final) don’t meet the Asian Games Top 8 comparison (49.900 in All-around and 13.225 qualification & 12.650 Final in Vault) either. She was exempted from trials and no-one knows where her fitness is at right now," he said pointing out that even her qualification score doesn't match up to the top eight scores in the last Asian Games.

    While Pranati has made the cut on merit, according to the Ministry, they have made exceptions in other sports for this edition of the Asian Games.

    “The football teams have also been given relaxation and so Dipa too should be considered,” GFI selection committee chairman Ashok Sahoo had said earlier this month when the Ministry first rejected Dipa's participation.

    The men's and women's football teams were initially not allowed to compete at Hangzhou based on the Ministry's rule for team sports that states that only teams within top 8 of the Asian ranking would be allowed to compete at the Asian Games. The Indian men's and women’s teams were ranked 18th and 11th. However, following pressure from current and former players, and fans on social media, the Ministry relented and allowed the teams to participate.

    Expand
  4. 4. What Has She Said About This?

    Dipa spoke out strongly against her exclusion on a social media post on India's Independence Day.

    "On this Independence Day, I am using my freedom of speech to discuss recent events that have proven to be very demotivating and discouraging. The Asian Games 2023, an event I have eagerly anticipated for the past two years, looks further than it is. To my surprise, despite topping the national trials and meeting the selection criteria, it appears that I will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the 19th Asian Games, Dipa wrote on her social media.

    'Worse still, the reasons behind this decision are unknown to me and have not been communicated officially. Instead, my fellow gymnasts and I are left to read about our exclusion from the Games in the news and I simply don’t know what to make of it. All I ask is for the selection criteria to be applied fairly and consistently across all sports," she concluded.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Did Dipa Make The Cut For The Asian Games?

The face of Indian gymnastics, the one who introduced the country to the sport after finishing a historic fourth at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Dipa Karmakar now finds her comeback effort steamrolled by the Sports Ministry after they rejected the Gymnastics Federation of India's selection recommendations for the Asian Games.

Dipa has been out of action since 2017 due to injuries, following which she was handed a 21 month doping suspension which ended on 10 July, 2023. Making her eligible to compete in the national trials. In a notification dated 22 May, her name was in the list of shortlisted 'core probables' and at the 11 & 12 June trials, she finished as the country's top contender for a gymnastics medal in Hangzhou.

Dipa topped the trials with an all round score of 47.05. Pranati Das scored 45.80 while Pranati Nayak skipped the trials and used her score from the Asian Championship in Singapore, 44.43, for her qualification score.

Nine gymnasts made the cut in the Gymnastic Federation of India's final list. However, in the Sports Ministry's final list, only Pranati Nayak was named.

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Then Why Isn't She Being Sent?

Despite topping the qualification and her name being approved by the Gymnastics Federation of India, the Sports Ministry rejected Dipa's entry based on a qualification rule set on 10 July, 2023 that requires all athletes' going to these Asian Games to have a better performance in the last 12 months, than the 8th placed athlete of their event at the 2018 Asian Games.

“In individual events during the last 12 months prior to the commencement of the event (Asian Games), the performance of the sportspersons should not be less than the performance achieved by the eighth position holder of the 2018 Asian Games in measurable sports," states the Sports Ministry's new selection criteria.

Dipa, having missed out on competitive action for over six years, does not have an official score in the last 12 months thus, ruling her out of contention for the Asian Games, according to the Sports Ministry's new guidelines.

With the rule being introduced only last month, the GFI also protested the rejection of seven of their athletes.

“We reviewed the evaluation by the SAI officials and realised that the SAI officials used an entirely new criteria to evaluate the gymnasts which was not consistent with the criteria published by the MYAS. Such an inconsistency in application of selection criteria is resulting in elimination of established gymnasts like Dipa Karmakar, Rakesh Patra, Yogeshwar Singh etc, who have already proved their capability and fulfil the criteria published by MYAS,” said a letter by the federation.

0

Who Is Going?

As mentioned earlier, only one gymnast has made the Sports Ministry's qualification mark, Pranati Nayak. However, as pointed out by Dipa's coach Bisweshwar Nandi to Indian Express, if the Sports Ministry's new guidelines are to be followed, even her score would not make the qualification mark.

"I have nothing against Pranati Nayak, but her June Asian Championship score in All around (44.432) or the Vault (12.733 in Qualification and 12.417 in Final) don’t meet the Asian Games Top 8 comparison (49.900 in All-around and 13.225 qualification & 12.650 Final in Vault) either. She was exempted from trials and no-one knows where her fitness is at right now," he said pointing out that even her qualification score doesn't match up to the top eight scores in the last Asian Games.

While Pranati has made the cut on merit, according to the Ministry, they have made exceptions in other sports for this edition of the Asian Games.

“The football teams have also been given relaxation and so Dipa too should be considered,” GFI selection committee chairman Ashok Sahoo had said earlier this month when the Ministry first rejected Dipa's participation.

The men's and women's football teams were initially not allowed to compete at Hangzhou based on the Ministry's rule for team sports that states that only teams within top 8 of the Asian ranking would be allowed to compete at the Asian Games. The Indian men's and women’s teams were ranked 18th and 11th. However, following pressure from current and former players, and fans on social media, the Ministry relented and allowed the teams to participate.

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What Has She Said About This?

Dipa spoke out strongly against her exclusion on a social media post on India's Independence Day.

"On this Independence Day, I am using my freedom of speech to discuss recent events that have proven to be very demotivating and discouraging. The Asian Games 2023, an event I have eagerly anticipated for the past two years, looks further than it is. To my surprise, despite topping the national trials and meeting the selection criteria, it appears that I will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the 19th Asian Games, Dipa wrote on her social media.

'Worse still, the reasons behind this decision are unknown to me and have not been communicated officially. Instead, my fellow gymnasts and I are left to read about our exclusion from the Games in the news and I simply don’t know what to make of it. All I ask is for the selection criteria to be applied fairly and consistently across all sports," she concluded.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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