Dipa Karmakar was hardly an unknown name when she made history a couple of days ago by becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. She’s also the first Indian gymnast to do so in 52 years.
She was that girl—the one who won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth games, another first.
Her compatriot Ashish Kumar won a medal at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth games and another at the Asian Games that same year.
But his success story ended due to infighting within the national gymnastics body and apathy from its administrators.
Karmakar hails from Tripura—one of India’s backward states. That she made it so far is incredible.
What’s galling , however, is that it is only now that she becomes part of the TOPS scheme for Olympic athletes with a grant of Rs. 30 lakhs.
Karmakar is an exponent of the dreaded Produnova vault; she has the highest score ever among women logging 15.100 with a 7.000 for difficulty, 8.100 for execution and a 0.1 penalty.
Incorrect execution could result in serious spinal injuries and even death.
Karmakar says, “I’d seen boys do it, so why not? It’s tough because when you land after two aerial somersaults, the weight that comes on the leg is double – if I’m 45 kg, the legs have to take 80-90 kg.”
The 22-year-old from Agartala has strong legs. She is only the third from five women gymnasts to successfully attempt the maneuver.
Can Karmakar bring home an Olympic medal?
Karmakar believes she can. She wants it—badly
Her sister Puja has no doubts that it’s possible.
She says, “The world maybe wondering where this motivation suddenly came from. We always knew. Just watch her on the Vault.”