Dipa Karmakar to attempt new vault at Asian Games
From a diminutive kid training in obscurity to becoming a celebrity figure sportsperson following her Rio Olympics exploits, Dipa Karmakar has come a long way. There were stumbles and hardships along which she had overcome, the most recent one being a knee (right) injury last year for which she underwent an Anterior Ligament Surgery (ACL) surgery. She had been out of action ever since.
Back in what she is best in doing—performing artistic gymnastics, Dipa has been testing her flexibility and balancing skills at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in the capital under the watchful eyes of long-time coach Bishweshwar Nandi for the last one-and-a-half month.
Until a few days back, she was even expected to make her return to competitive gymnastics at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games scheduled in April. But this has to wait as she is yet to attain full fitness and thus has ruled herself out of the upcoming Games. She has been a bronze medallist from the last CWG in Glasgow.
Much like Dipa, the development was disappointing for the fraternity including her coach and admirers. The gymnast rued the missed opportunity but knows she can’t afford to lose her sleep over it; she has a much bigger task at hand—attempting and mastering on a new vault and winning a medal at the Asian Games. Without any doubt, Produnova remains her first choice but Dipa is focussing on all four events—vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor.
“Dipa has just completed her rehab and she has regained her fitness. But she is 92 per cent fit now and has been training for the last one and half month, six hours a day. We are not focusing on performing on Produnova vault now, rather devoting our time in training on a new vault—'Handspring front somersault with 540 degree turn' (twisting in the air). It is also one of the toughest vaults like Produnova as its difficulty mark is 5.60, while the latter has a difficulty value of 6.40,”
“She will be starting training Prdunova vault by end of the year,” the coach added.
‘Dipa will be 100 percent fit in 2 months’
In order to attain these points, Dipa’s training procedure has to be one the best. Her aim shouldn’t be to just gain strength in her injured knee or get a powerful wrist, but stay injury free. Thus Nandi is taking a cautious approach to his training methods.
Currently, the Tripura gymnast is practising in a firm pit in the outdoors of IG Stadium and will start her actual training on vault after a few weeks.
“She should attain 100 percent fitness in two and a half month. She has just returned from a career-threatening injury, so we are taking precaution during her training. Gymnastics is a game of unusual and risky movements though beautiful. Every movement is crucial. If everything goes well, she should win a medal. We will try our best,” the coach said adding that a lot of focus has been on strengthening Dipa’s recovered knee.
Asked to detail how he set the targets for Dipa ahead of major events, Nandi said:
“While training, we keep in mind the difficulty mark set by world cup champions, CWG, Asian Games and Olympic podium finishers or even fourth, fifth place finishers and train accordingly. We also watch a lot of videos of these players to decide which vault and how we need to train to be better than these World Cup or CWG medallist."
He also stressed diet was an important aspect of Dipa’s rehabilitation, apart from rest.
“Being a gymnast, she had to keep a check of her body weight and try to be on the lighter side. She can’t afford to put on too much weight. So we have cut down on sugar and fast-food, rather consuming a lot of boiled chicken and vegetables besides dry fruits,”
The coach said adding that importance has been given to protein and a restricted calorie diet to gain power.
“If everything goes and if Dipa regains her full fitness on time, we might travel to a Russian country for training,” he added.
Hailing the current pool of gymnasts including Aruna Budda Reddy, who recently made the country proud winning the World Cup bronze medal, Nandi added that Reddy was one of his wards since 2011 and “a little modification in her vault during her foreign training in Uzbekistan did wonders for the youngster as she went on to win a historic medal.”
‘Proud of Aruna’
Acknowledging that fact that her Rio show brought the much-needed attention on gymnastics, Dipa believes promising gymnasts like Reddy too can leave a mark and inspire a generation of players in the coming time. Hailing her former room partner’s effort in Melbourne, Dipa said,
“Since 2011, Aruna and I have been room-mates at national camps training under Nandi sir and from 2014 to 2017 we have trained together. We have been very close. Recently, she went for foreign training for one month. But the two vaults she performed in Melbourne, she had learned it in India under Nandi sir."
"She has made the whole nation proud. I still remember she used to often tell me that ‘I am working hard but not able to get any result.’ I used to tell her that to keep working hard and one day she will win a medal. I won a bronze at 2014 CWG, hope she can win a gold in Gold Coast," added the 24-year-old.