'Inspiring the next generation of Indian gymnasts' - Dipa Karmakar trailblazing a new path

Karmakar’s fourth place finish at the Rio Olympics went a long way in inspiring youngsters and developing infrastructure in the country
By Samrat Chakraborty

Dipa Karmakar changed the face of gymnastics in India.

She was the first Indian female gymnast to represent the country at the Olympics and the first Indian gymnast to do so in 52 years. And her fourth-place finish in the vault at the Rio Olympics, behind Switzerland's Giulia Steingrubber (bronze), Russia's Maria Paseka (silver), and Simone Biles (gold) of the US, not only motivated youngsters to take up the discipline but also improved infrastructure in the country.

Karmakar, also the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, believes more people will take up the sport in near future and help it grow if they can maintain the same mindset over a period of time.

"I think after qualifying for the Olympics and representing India in gymnastics that too after a gap of 52 years, I was able to motivate a lot of young girls and boys,” Dipa Karmakar to the Olympic Channel.

“I could see plenty of private coaching centers being opened, parents have started to show interest in putting their kids into gymnastics.”

"I feel really happy that my achievement could bring such an impact on people’s mindset towards the sport, and the government also has started to take interest and initiative to bring more competitions and infrastructure in place. So, I believe if we keep growing with the same mindset and start performing consistently at the international stage more people will definitely join in," she added.

Dipa Karmakar had to skip the National trials due to a knee injury

The Agartala-gymnast could not pull off the daredevil Produnova move as perfectly as she would have liked in the women's vault final at the Rio Olympics. As a result, she missed out on a historic medal by a whisker.

"When I finished 4th and missed out on being on the podium with just 0.15 points I was really disappointed and upset. But at the same time, I was really happy that I was competing against the likes of Simone (Biles), Maria (Paseka), Giulia (Steingruber) and Oksana (Chusovitina) and finished fourth after giving my best shot," the 27-year-old said.

"You know, I was very happy at the moment when I found out that I finished fourth amidst such tough competition, but when I found out that I came fourth just by 0.15 points I was really disappointed and ended up in tears back then," she added.

Injuries though have kept her away from competition in the last three years. Karmakar has not booked a berth for the Tokyo Olympics but is hoping to do well at the next Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year.

"The first goal for the 2024 Olympics will definitely be to qualify but before that, we have the 2022 Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games, so I am looking forward to these upcoming events."