Upbeat Dipa Karmakar targets Olympic podium

Pleasantly surprised by the raptarous welcome in her hometown Agartala following her qualification for the Rio Olympics, gymnast Dipa Karmakar is determined to do well at the quadrinniel extravagenza.

The Tripura girl won gold in the women’s artistic gymnastics event at the Olympic test event in Rio de Janeiro last week to become the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. In the process, she also became the first Indian gymnast to win a gold at a world event.

“No doubt life has changed a lot after I returned from Rio de Janiero. I suddenly became so famous. Since returning home, I have been busy meeting people, officials and giving interviews. This is the best phase of my life. I was really surprised to see a huge crowd at the airport. It was really difficult for me to get out of that,” Dipa said.

“I will go to Rio with the goal of winning a medal. I know it will not be easy, but I will work hard.”

But Dipa’s tryst with gymnastics was not a case of love at first sight. She did not enter the sport by choice, but was initiated into it by her father, a weightlifting coach at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre at Agartala.

In fact, Dipa’s fear of falling coupled with her flat feet made her intial days in the sport quite tough. She also suffered from flat feet during her childhood, which increased her difficulties. Dipa’s flat feet used to affect the spring in her jump and Nandi had to work hard to bring the arch in her feet. With time, she also managed to overcome her fear of falling and started to improve quite rapidly.

Dipa credited the guidance and encouragement of her coach Bisbeshwar Nandi and father Dulal Karmakar for helping her reach this level.

“When I started gymnastics at the age of six, I was not at all interested in the sport. But my father gave me a lot of encouragement. Whatever I have achieved today is due to the support, guidance and encouragement of my father and my coach,” Dipa said.

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