Dipa Karmakar on Monday created history by becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics as she booked a berth for the Rio Games after a strong performance at the final qualifying and test event.
The 22-year-old garnered a total score of 52.698 points in the Olympics qualifying event to book a berth for artistic gymnastics in Rio Games to be held here in Apart from being the first Indian woman, she will also be an Indian gymnast qualifying for the quadrennial extravaganza after 52 long years.
Since the independence of the country, 11 Indian male gymnast have taken part in the Olympics (two in 1952, three in 1956 and six in 1964) but this will be the first for an Indian woman at the Olympics.
The International Federation of Gymnastics (Federation Internationale de Gymnastique) has confirmed Dipa’s Rio Games qualification in its official release.
“Following the Women’s Qualification Competition at the Gymnastics Test Event in Rio, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) herewith confirms the list of nations and individual gymnasts that have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” the world body said in its release.
Dipa has been listed as the 79th gymnast among individual qualifiers in the list of women’s artistic gymnast who have qualified for the Rio Olympics.
Concentration was writ large on her face. She jogged on the spot to warm herself, bent forward, eyes focussed on her goal. The determination seen in them belied the nervousness she perhaps felt. And then, amidst applause, she soared high, executing a faultless Tsukahara — one of gymnastics’ most sophisticated vault routines — which clinched the deal. Last week, 21-year-old Dipa Karmakar became the first woman gymnast and the second Indian to bag a Bronze medal at the sixth Gymnastics Asian Championships in Hiroshima.
Leap of faith
Dipa, who hails from Tripura’s Agartala, did not enter into gymnastics by choice. In fact, it was a sport she had abhorred ever since she was initiated into it by her father, Dulal, a weightlifting coach. She was afraid of falling! However, with the passage of time, not only did she get used to the sport and overcome her apprehensions and dislike, she also began nurturing a burning need to carve a niche for herself. Trained by B.S. Nandi and Kaplana Debnath in Agartala, she improved in leaps and bounds.
Dipa came into the limelight last year at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) held in Glasgow, Scotland and won a Bronze, making it India’s first-ever medal by a woman gymnast in the CWG.
If you are familiar with the nuances of gymnastics, you would know that the word ‘Produnova’ is uttered in tones of reverence. It is the Everest of gymnastics, theavada kedavra of the dark arts. Despite missing out on the gold and silver, it is for her flawless execution of the Produnova — a vault that consists of a front handspring and two front somersaults — that Dipa won her medal.
A high-risk feat, the margin for error while carrying out a Produnova is tiny — one wrong move and you could end up with a broken neck or being paralysed, or worse, dead. But Dipa pulled it off with stunning ease. What’s more, she also has the distinction of being the highest scorer in the world to have conquered the death feat — 15.100, with 7.000 for difficulty, and an 8.100 for execution, with a 0.1 penalty, making her a rare catch in gymnastics. None, except two of her contemporaries, Yamilet Pena of Dominican Republic and Fadwa Mahmoud of Egypt, have attempted the Produnova and neither have a score that is anywhere close to Dipa’s.
She might have narrowly missed her moment of glory in the Asian Games held at Incheon, South Korea last year, but her bronze this time around, has her scaling greater heights.
Keywords: Rio Olympics 2016, Dipa Karmakar, first Indian gymnast, Olympic berth, Olympic gymnastic championship