Dipa Karmakar may be one of India's best medal bets, so why aren't more people talking about her?
The headlines related to the events of Olympic Games are invariably focusing on the medal contenders of the tournament. From the shooting contingent to wrestling, the online and offline attention are now fixed to the gold and the glory.
The Olympic flame doesn't just burn inside them, but the hope of clutching a sacred gold, silver or a bronze burns in the hearts of the 'underdogs' too.
Dipa Karmakar will be traveling 15,000 km across the world to Brazil next month to win a medal in a discipline of her passion.
This is the first time that a female gymnast has qualified for the biggest sporting event of the world. The last participation by an Indian male gymnast at the Olympics was way back in 1964, but during that time, there was no qualification system in place.
22-year-old Dipa Karmakar has made history.
On August 7th, the dark horse of India’s Olympic contingent will be trying her best to qualify for the finals of the women's artistic gymnastics - arguably one of the most challenging events in the Olympics.
She might not be getting the attention that other medal hopefuls are getting for their recent performances. But from far-off Tripura, the 22-year-old Bengali girl has slowly raised the prospect of India's first medal in the biggest stage of them all.
Ever since becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Dipa has been on a roll and constantly making a mark at international tournaments. Her bronze-winning feat in Glasgow was possible because of a vault of difficulty level 7.00 and an overall score of 14.366. The same year, she missed the Asian games bronze by a whisker after finishing fourth with a score of 14.200. The next year, at the World Gymnastics Championship, Dipa finished an impressive fifth with a tally of 14.900 in the qualifying round and 14.683 in the final.
When the Tripura-based gymnast finally went to the test event at the Rio-qualifying test event this April, she had already improved a lot by then.
Karmakar showed enough grace and fluency on all four apparatus — vault, uneven bars, beam, and floor, in the process of reaching a total score of 52.698 points (15.066 in Produnova, 13.366 and 12.566 in beam and floor exercises and 11.700 in uneven bars). It was enough for Dipa to secure a Rio berth.
She followed it up by scoring 14.833 in the final to finish first in the women's vaults finals and win the gold in a rare feat by an Indian gymnast in a global event.
Romania's Sandra Raluca Izbaa won the gold at the 2012 London Olympics women’s gymnastic vaults final after scoring 15.191, which is only 0.358 more than Dipa.
|1||Sandra Izbasa (Romania)||15.191|
|2||McKayla Maroney (USA)||15.083|
|3||Maria Paseka (Germany)||15.050|
|4||Janine Berger (Germany)||15.016|
|5||Oksana Chusovitina (Germany)||14.783|
Not just that, she holds the highest score on a Produnova in the world, a high-risk skill. The Produnova vault is a rare move considered the pinnacle of that sport, named after the exploits of former European champion Elena Produnova of Russia. The number of athletes who’ve successfully completed the Produnova is just five and Karmakar was the third. In 2015 she logged 15.100 that includes 7.00 for difficulty, 8.1 for execution and 0.1 for penalty.
Dipa has proven that she has it in her to perform at the highest stage. She has to improve her landing and also work on a few more things to hold her own at the world's biggest sporting extravaganza.
She overcame the obstacles, challenges, and failures till now. Her gold at the qualifying event in Rio is remarkable and that will give her confidence to raise the bar. Can the dark horse of Indian Olympic contingent triumph at Rio?
Only time will tell.