Flat-footed Reluctance to Rio 2016 Ticket: The Dipa Karmakar Story
File photo of Dipa Karmarkar (Photo: Reuters)
File photo of Dipa Karmarkar (Photo: Reuters)

Flat-footed Reluctance to Rio 2016 Ticket: The Dipa Karmakar Story

Dipa Karmakar on Monday created history by becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. She booked her place at the Rio Games after putting up a strong show in the final qualifying event at Rio de Janeiro.

The daughter of a weightlifting coach at the SAI centre in Agartala, Dipa started gymnastics from the early age of six and is still being trained by coach childhood Bisbeshwar Nandi.

Early Days

Dipa’s tryst with gymnastics however was not a case of love at first sight. She did not enter the sport by choice, but was initiated into it by her father. In fact, Dipa’s fear of falling coupled with her flat feet made her initial days in the sport quite tough.

Dipa’s flat feet used to affect the spring in her jump and Nandi had to work hard to bring the arch in her feet. With time, she also managed to overcome her fear of falling and started to improve quite rapidly.

Dipa Karmakar’s parents (Photo: IANS)
Dipa Karmakar’s parents (Photo: IANS)

Collecting Accolades

Her interest and the passion for the game increased when she won the Junior Nationals at Jalpaiguri in 2007. However, the 22 year old first came to limelight when in 2011 she bagged five gold medals, representing Tripura in the National Games. She won the golds in floor, vault, all-around, balance beam and uneven bars.

In 2010, she was part of the Indian gymnastic team in the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, where she saw Ashish Kumar create history by winning India’s first ever gymnastic medal. Dipa later said Kumar was an inspiration for her.

Four years later in the 2014 Commonwealth Games (CWG), Dipa grabbed the bronze medal in the women’s vault final with an overall score of 14.366. The medal made her the first Indian woman to win in a Commonwealth Games gymnastic event.

Arjuna awardee Dipa Karmakar with Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. (Photo: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/dipa.karmakar.18?fref=ts">Facebook</a>)
Arjuna awardee Dipa Karmakar with Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. (Photo: Facebook)

One in Five to Pull Off the Produnova

Dipa then attempted the Produnova vault – a move that consists of a front handspring and two front somersaults – which is one of the most difficult and dangerous moves in gymnastics. However, Dipa’s attempt did not come off clean as her bottom touched the mat before she bounced back onto her feet, which earned her a penalty of 0.1 point.

But Dipa earned the distinction of being the highest scorer in the world to have accomplished the move. Among the contemporary gymnasts, only Yamilet Pena of Dominican Republic and Fadwa Mahmoud of Egypt have attempted the Produnova vault and neither managed to score as much as Dipa.

At a felicitation for the CWG athletes on 8 August 2010 in New Delhi, Dipa’s efforts were praised by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Later that year in the Asian Games, Dipa finished fourth in the vault final with a score of 14.200.

In October 2015, the Agartala girl also became the first ever Indian to qualify for the final stage of the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. In the final she scored 14.683 to grab the fifth position.

(With IANS inputs)

(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)

Follow our Sports section for more stories.

    Also Watch