April 22: Dipa Karmakar entered into history books as she became India’s first woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics after putting up a strong show at the final qualifying and Rio Games test event.
Dipa, who is an Asian bronze medallist, qualified in the artistic gymnastics event at Rio De Janeiro, after collecting 52.698 points in the test event, according to the world gymnastics governing body, FIG’s website.
Having created history, Dipa added another feather to her cap by winning gold in the women’s vaults finals at the Olympic test event here.
The Tripura girl thus became the first Indian woman gymnast to win gold in a world gymnastics event. The 22-year-old scored 14.833 points in her first attempt which was enough to secure the top spot. She is trained by coach Bisbeshwar Nandi.
The Rio Olympics will be the first time that an Indian woman gymnast will feature at the ‘greatest show on earth’.
The 22-year-old from Agartala in Tripura has been listed as the 79th gymnast among individual qualifiers in the list of women’s artistic gymnast who have qualified for the quadrennial Games.
Her journey from humble beginnings in her hometown of Agartala is testimony to her hard work and determination. The daughter of a weightlifting coach at the SAI centre in Agartala, Dipa started gymnastics from the early age of six.
But Dipa’s tryst with gymnastics was not a case of love at first sight, but was initiated into it by her father.
In fact, Dipa’s fear of falling coupled with her flat feet made her intial days in the sport quite tough – affecting the spring in her jump. After winning the Junior Nationals at Jalpaiguri in 2007, Dipa’s interest and passion for the sport grew.
The 22-year-old first came into the limelight in 2011, when she bagged five gold medals in the National Games, representing Tripura. She won the golds in floor, vault, all-around, balance beam and uneven bars.
In 2010, she was part of the Indian gymnastic team in the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, where she saw Ashish Kumar create history by winning India’s first ever gymnastic medal. Dipa later said Kumar was an inspiration for her.
Four years later in the 2014 Commonwealth Games (CWG), Dipa grabbed the bronze medal in the women’s vault final in Glasgow. The medal made her the first Indian woman to win in a Commonwealth Games gymnastic event.
Besides being the first Indian woman, she will also be an Indian gymnast qualifying for the quadrennial extravaganza after 52 long years.
The last participation by India in gymnastics at Olympics was way back in 1964; only 11 Indian men gymnasts have competed in the Olympics –two in 1952, three in 1956 and six in 1964.
Dipa will also get a chance in the vault, the event in which she picked up two bronze medals in the 2015 Asian Championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games. She also had finished creditable fifth in the World Championships.
Dipa said that she would devote herself to serious practice to win medals in the upcoming Rio Olympics. Accompanied by her coach Bisweswar Nandi, Dipa returned to a huge welcome in her home state Tripura on Friday.
“I would now concentrate in serious practice at SAI (Sports Authority of India) coaching centre in Delhi,” she told reporters. “My only target is to get medals in Rio Olympics, nothing else. I will try to deliver my best in the Olympics,” the country’s latest sporting sensation said.
Hundreds of sports lovers, officials, admirers and well-wishers received Dipa on her arrival at the Agartala airport from Delhi.
A five-time national overall individual champion between 2010-2014, Dipa was given the Arjuna Award last year.