Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar has admonished the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) for failing to conduct tournaments at the national level. Dipa, who missed out on an Olympic medal by a whisker, rued that the absence of national events is hurting the prospects of the country's gymnasts.
For the past couple of years, there have been not a single National tournament in India. Dipa still managed to come fourth at the Rio Olympics earlier in the year, and her achievement will surely inspire budding gymnasts.
Speaking to Mid-day, the 23-year-old gymnast from Agartala, put emphasis on the importance of organising National tournaments. Dipa reflected that the young gymnasts of India suffer from a lack of events in the country.
She said, "We have gymnasts from different age categories—right from U-10 to seniors. If we don't organise Nationals every year, these gymnasts will lose important years of their career. It is the need of the hour to hold the Nationals as soon as possible. I too, was unable to participate in the senior Nationals from 2013 as there were no competitions, so the federation should take a serious note of this."
Bisweswar Nandi, Dipa's coach, also spoke in a similar tone mirroring her sentiments. He urged the GFI to conduct Nationals again, "Gymnasts are waiting for a national competition from 2013. I urge GFI and its vice-president Riyaz Bhati to conduct the Nationals."
Dipa Karmakar, who has been coached by Nandi for 15 years, first came to prominence by winning the Junior Nationals in Jalpaiguri in 2008. She has won a total of 77 medals since 2007, which includes 67 gold medals in state, national and international levels. She also became the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in 2016.
National level tournaments help the athletes to compete against the best in the country and thereby influence their performances in International meets. However, Riyaz Bhati, the president of GFI has given his word to conduct national tournaments as he said, "A few years ago someone went to the Supreme Court with issues related to national competitions.
“However, the court told us to conduct the Nationals. We met Indian Olympic Association Secretary General Rajeev Mehta and other officials, which was quite fruitful. We are hopeful of conducting the Nationals in January with the help of IOA."
The young gymnasts in the country hope that that the GFI act on their words, at least for the betterment of the sport in India.