Gymnastics! A sport, which has never trended in India, took the giant nation by surprise when Dipa Karmakar, when a young gymnast from the nation performed the toughest trick in the sport, the “Produnova”! not just once but twice, making her only the third woman in the history of the sport to land it and just the second woman to land it twice.
The Agartala born gymnast is now rearing up to the Rio Olympics 2016, creating history to be the first female gymnast to qualify from India to the Olympics. She took up the sport at a very young age of 6 under the guidance of veteran Biswaswar Nandi and had an early difficulty to shape her flat foot into curved one which was a must for a gymnast.
She reaped a rich 5 gold medals in vault, balance beam, floor, uneven bars and all round categories in her first go at the nationals representing Tripura in 2011. At the international level, she participated at the Delhi CWG in 2010 just to get inspired by co-gymnast Ashish Kumar, who won India its first ever gymnastics medal at the games.
She was a very dedicated and hardworking athlete and results started paying off in the long run. She succeeded in repeating Ashish’s feat at the Glasgow CWG 2014 when she won a Bronze medal, making her the first female Indian Athlete to win a medal in Gymnastics at the games with a score of 14.366, thanks to her Pradunova vault of difficulty 7. Her efforts struck India so much by surprise that, Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar himself included her in his speech and mentioned her to be an inspiration for the youngsters of the nation.
She finished 4th at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon with a final score of 14.200. She just finished behind Olympic Gold medalist, silver medalist and World Championship Bronze medalist. So, her efforts to give them such a fight was very much a morale boost for the youngster. She then not only created history by becoming the first Indian to qualify for the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in 2015 but she also made a mark by winning a bronze in the vault and finished 8 in balance beam events.
Dipa who holds the world record for the highest score made in a Pradunova, 15.300, 7.000 for difficulty and 8.300 for execution, making it the rarest of the rare phenomenon. The only two others to have attempted it were Yemilet Pena of Dominica Republic and Fawda Mahmoud of Egypt, who failed to score more than the garner score of 15.100. Ever since the Russian Yelena Produnova produced the vault at the Universaide Games in 1999, it has been considered a very deadly vault as there is a high possibility of severe spinal and neck injuries. Two summersaults in the air and a perfect land is something that was way to far for most athletes and a high-risk act. Nandi spent many sleepless nights discussing things with senior coaches all round the world and finally let her practice it just within 3 months to Glasgow and there she was making India proud!
Heading to Rio, Dipa made history as the Federation de Internationale de Gymnastique secretary general Andre Gueisbuhler announced her as the ‘Gymnaste de classe mondiale’ (World Class Gymnast) distinction when she finished 5th in the vaulting apparatus finals, making her the first Indian to receive such an honor. Qualifying for quadrennial sports extravaganza at Rio, she created huge wave all across that nation and now, she has raised some really good stakes at her go for the podium finish and the whole of India is up to support Dipa get the long shot!
All The Best Dipa!