Interview with Dipa Karmarkar: "Will give my best shot in Rio"
Dipa Karmarkar has already achieved a lot for Indian gymnasts. Medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 Asian Championships have catapulted her into the limelight. She nearly missed a medal at the 2015 World Championship in Glasgow, settling for a fifth place finish.
Coached by Bisweswar Nandi since an early age, the 22-year-old Tripura girl is straining her every nerve to make the country proud at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Dipa, who works as a Sports Officer in the Tripura Government, talks about her Olympics preparations and much more in an exclusive interview.
Q How are your preparations going on for the 2016 Rio Olympics?
It’s been good so far. Playing on a stage as big as the Olympics will be a great feeling and I’m working hard to give a good account of myself in Rio.
Q You have raised expectations about winning an Olympic medal for India in gymnastics. Your thoughts?
I’m not thinking about whether I will win a medal or not at Rio. I’m just focusing on my training and would like to give my best shot in the Rio Olympics.
Q The last time India had any representation in gymnastics at the Olympics was at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when a slew of men took part. So after 52 years, India will be having a participant in gymnastics.
It does make you feel good. It’s been a long time since any gymnast played in the Olympics for the country. It’s a great thing for the sport in the country.
Q Does it makes you feel special that you will be the first women gymnast from the country to take part in the Olympics?
Of course, I feel honoured to be the first women to represent my country in gymnastics in the Olympics. I hope this will be the start of many more women gymnasts playing for India in the Olympics.
Q You had finished 5th at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow logging 14,683 points – an event where Maria Paseka of Russia logged 15.666 to win the gold. Points-wise there isn’t much difference between you and the gold medal winner.
You are right – the points difference between me and Maria is not much. I will keep working hard to narrow the gap and be at my best in Rio.
Q Apart from Russia’s Maria Paseka, who will be your main challengers in the women’s vault?
Gymnasts from USA, Korea, England and China will be tough to beat. Olympics is never an easy event to win medals and every gymnast will have to be at their best to make a podium finish.
Q Vault event is a risk-prone event and is known to result in spinal injuries – your thoughts.
It’s a difficult event and I chose this event because it is the most tough among all events.
Q Do you think Indian gymnastics is being talked about in a big way after your exploits?
I want Indian gymnastics to go up – I do hope the sport produces many champions in the future.
Q From being a non-entity, you have become one of the most talked about athlete.
I want to thank everyone who have supported me in my journey – the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Tripura government, Sports Ministry and my coach Bisweswar Nandi and all my well wishers. Without the support of all these people, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have so far.