Rio Olympics: Dipa Karmakar vaults into billion hearts, loses medal by whisker

Dipa Karmakar; picture credit: Olympic site

Mumbai: A diamond might not know it’s worth, but people do. Yesterday in Women’s Vault final event of Rio Olympics 2016, 1.3 billion people of India not only recognised the diamond but also came to know her worth. This young woman from India may not have won the coveted medal but she won millions of hearts.

Dipa Karmakar, 23, who represented India in Women’s Vault finals in Rio Olympics on Sunday evening finished on fourth position with an average of 15.022 points (her personal best), just 0.150 points behind the bronze medallist.

The Tripura gymnast performed two different vaults in both the chances and did exceptionally well in both. In the first go, she attempted ‘Tsukahora’, a vault in which the gymnast takes a half turn off the spring board onto the vault, then a push backwards usually into a salto or layout. She secured 14.866 points, 6.0 for difficulty and 8.866 for execution.

In the final turn, Dipa went for the ‘Produnova’, a vault in which the gymnast does a front handspring off the vault table followed by roughly two and a half somersaults. She secured a 15.266, 7.0 for difficulty and 8.266 for her execution considering her landing.

However, for performing at such a great level, Dipa started training way back when she was a 5-year-old kid. It is said that a diamond is formed after coal undergoes extreme pressure and so is the case with our gem.

Dipa, the only female gymnast from India to qualify for the Olympics after 52 long years started her training with Soma Nandi (Wife of Bisweshwar Nandi, Dipa’s present coach), and used to train under the Tin roofed Vivekananda Byayamgar in Agartala.

The five-year-old kid had a flat foot when she enrolled but with her determination and quest for becoming the best, made her work very hard for getting the curve in her feet. And just after two and a half years of training, Dipa won her first gold in balance beam in North East Games.

This gave her a chance to come under Netaji Subhash Regional Coaching centre and she officially began her journey with her present coach Bisweshwar Nandi. When did this little girl grew to become one of India’s finest gymnasts, even her parents did not realise. But they were yet to see her shine.

Dipa’s career officially began at the age of 13, when she won Junior Nationals in Jalgaipuri in 2007. Since then, there was no stopping. She just did not make her parents proud of her but also her coach who constantly believed in her and treated her like his own daughter. Since 2007, Dipa won 77 medals out of which 67 were gold from state, national and international meets.

Hailing from a family where her father was a sports trainer, Dipa always had a lot of support from her family which can be regarded as her strength in shaping up her life.

In 2011, Dipa made a debut in National Games of India and won four gold medals in all four events including Vault, Balance beam and uneven bars. She represented India in the 2014 Commonwealth Games where she win a bronze with the score of 14.366. She finished fourth in 2014 Asian Games with 14.200 points and bronze in Asian Championships. She recorded 14.900 points in qualification round and a 14.683 in the final rounds.

Dipa shot into popularity soon after performing the Produnova Vault at various competitions making her one of the five women in the world who have attempted it successfully. She created history after qualifying for the Olympics… And outshone everyone on the finals.

According to Soma Nandi, Dipa used to practice Produnova at least 75 times in one session. And not only now, Dipa practised and gave her dedication to gymnastics her entire life for reaching at the 4th place in Vault in the entire world. Though she could not win the medal, she showed what her worth is.

The Gold was won by Simone Biles of United States with 15.966 points, followed by Maria Paseka of Russia with 15.253 and Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland with 15.216 points. And after seeing Dipa’s performance in her maiden Olympics, every one not just in India but in the entire world will wait to see her perform in 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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