Beyond Rio: Dipa Karmakar’s hunt for glory of gold continues
EM Sports Desk
Dipa Karmakar, a 23-year old from Agartala in Tripura, is the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics and first entry, overall, for India ever since 1964.
She fought against all odds to win the hearts of billions, indeed she was just an ordinary girl before the Rio Olympic started. But she was not new to the India’s “Sports Athletes” industry. On April 18 this year, Dipa became the first ever Indian female gymnast to qualify for an Olympics after she entered the final of a Test event at Rio De Janerio with a score of 52.698. She earned her ticket to go to Rio and a chance to win at the Rio Olympics.
She not only wrote history for herself, but also for her state and the entire northeast region as a whole. She also proved that nothing is impossible when it comes to sheer hard work and commitment. She also set a reminder to the nation that the northeast can produced quality sportsperson if they were trained well enough with better facilities.
Before the Olympic, she was rarely known to people outside of Tripura, nobody would even bother or hear the name of Dipa Karmakar until she made to the final after finishing 8th in the qualifying round with a score of 52.698 points. This year India has fielded its largest-ever contingent at the Olympic Games in Rio with a total of 118 and was even expecting double digits in medal.
But the disappointment of the Indian Olympics in Rio unravelled as the shooters, the archers, and the athletes got knocked out easily. Even the big names like Leander Peas, Saina Nehwal, Abhinav Bindra couldn’t win a medal for India, one after the other, the Indian Olympics athletics failed. Then out of nowhere, Dipa became the centre attraction for India, and stole headlines across the country.
She took on a Gandhian avatar to break all the taboos, cutting across Hindus, Muslims and Christians as she brought the entire country as one. They came together to support and watched Dipa’s final, regardless of wherever they were. All eyes were on her during the eve of Independence Day, for the girl to win a medal in the final round of the gymnastics. Dipa became the only hope of the nation as India looked to celebrate its 70th Independence Day.
But during the final, as she stood up on the stage, we could see her nervousness, the burden, the agony, the pain she was carrying all for India to win a medal on Day 9 of the Olympics. She performed Produnova vault (vault of death) that was renamed after Russian gymnast Yelena Produnova in order to make sure that she gets a medal home.
Yes, she perfected the move but her landing was not good enough and ended up with a total score of 15.066 that put her in second spot temporarily for some time. But sadly Russia’s Maria Paseka and USA’s Simone Biles pull her down to fourth. She indeed narrowly missed out on India’s first medal in this edition of the Olympics.
Yet this was as bitter as it seems, even though the medal drought continues for India in Rio. After the event, Karmakar told media persons from India: “My target is gold for life.” She continues to dream for gold at the next Olympics.
After the event, Bindra tweeted “Dipa Karmakar, you are my hero”. “Thank you #DipaKarmakar for getting us united at midnight cheering for Gymnastics, in a country with no infrastructure for this sport,” said cricketer Virender Sehwag. “Super proud”.
Sehwag even requested prime minister Modi to consider a special plane or train after her name.
“I would request Hon’ble PM Narendra Modiji to consider naming a special plane & a train after these two young athletes (even if it is a special for a few days and at the cost of not causing confusion) which in a way will encourage parents and inspire many youngsters to take up less popular sports as a career,” Virender Sehwag tweeted.
Her new chapter has just begun as she continues to inspire young people of her age to keep dreaming about what they want to do in life.
Adding to intrigue to the story, Dipa’s struggles are not dissimilar to that of a famous boxer from the region. Manipur’s Mary Kom, a mother and a boxer who was a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion but was always under the radar of mainstream media until the London Olympics where she won a bronze medal and got promoted eventually.
This tale hasn’t ended just yet for the athletes from the northeast or the entire. As proven plenty, India has its potentials, which sadly has yet to bear fruit. But, as reminded by Dipa, the dream continues, and we move on.