Olympics Postponement Has a Big Silver Lining for Dipa Karmakar
A postponed Olympics mean Dipa Karmakar gets a chance to get back from injury and book a ticket to Tokyo.
A postponed Olympics will come with many complications for athletes and whole lot more difficulties for the hosts but there is a silver lining should one choose to look for an upside.
Across the world, players like Andy Murray, Tiger Woods and Kevin Durant now get an extra 12 months to recover from their injuries and lost form to vie for another podium finish and closer to home, the delay gives gymnast Dipa Karmakar another shot at her second Olympics.
The star who became the first Indian woman gymnast to compete at an Olympics in Rio, and then topped it with a fourth-place finish in the vault event, has been in and out of competitive form since 2017, when she injured her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and had to go in for surgery.
But the extra 12 months now mean she can give qualification a second shot.
“I will give my best to return to form and hopefully I can do well and qualify,” said Dipa when asked about her plans.
Time Outs and an Injury
While the summer of 2016 saw Dipa reach the greatest of highs of her 23 years, the last four years haven’t been very kind to the Agartala native.
Just under a year after her Olympics’ exploits, Dipa injured her ACL in practice and was forced to go in for a surgery, ruling her out for the rest of the season.
The Commonwealth Games in April 2018 were to be her next major outing following Rio, but Dipa wasn't fit in time for the trials and thus, sat out. It was only in July that she returned and her comeback brought a new career high as Dipa bagged a gold in the vault event at the Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Turkey, becoming the first Indian gymnast to win a world medal.
Next came the Asian Games and with it another injury, on the same knee, as she landed wrong during a practice session and had to pull out of the Games. This time though, there was no surgery and what followed is now regarded by many as a career-threatening decision made by the gymnast and her coach - a decision to return to the circuit just months later. There were initial rewards - a bronze in the vault event at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in November but in Baku in March 2019, her first Olympics’ qualifying event, Dipa aggravated her knee injury once again and has been out of action since.
6 Done, 2 to Go
Dipa is yet to compete since Baku last March and so the postponement of the Olympics gives the gymnast a lifeline, though a very slim one.
"There were eight World Cups but now there are only two left, which were supposed to happen in March but got postponed to June due to coronavirus outbreak," Karmakar told PTI in an interview as she reviewed her qualification chances.
Baku was the start of the Toyko qualification cycle and it had reached its last leg when the coronavirus forced all sports events across the world to be shut down. Of the eight World Cups, just two that were scheduled in March are now left.
But can she be fit in time for whenever the qualification tournaments now do take place? A definite yes, is her coach’s answer.
"She is fit now. She has completely recovered from the injury. Dipa had started her basic practice late last month when this coronavirus outbreak happened. She will be back to her best in 3-4 months and since there are still two events left, we can take another shot at the Olympics,” Dipa’s coach Bishweshwar Nandi told PTI.
But having missed more than a majority of the qualification event, the road to Tokyo is still a very narrow one for Dipa. Juggling a recovered knee and severely high expectations, the 26 year-old will need nothing less than a gold or a silver in the remaining two World Cups if she is to have any chance of bagging a ticket to Tokyo.
"She will need two silver or one gold and a silver in the two tournaments. We will not leave any stone unturned and I hope she will be able to perform," Nandi added.
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