Dipa Karmakar thrust herself and the sport of gymnastics into the spotlight in India when she nearly missed the podium for a bronze in Rio.
However, once she got back from Brazil, the Indian was left stranded with an injury to her knee, requiring corrective surgery for her anterior cruciate ligament in April 2017.
While she was forced to skip the 2018 Asian Games, Dipa Karmakar made a strong comeback later that year. One of only five women to have landed the Produnova vault successfully in an international competition, Karmakar went on to taste glory at the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Mersin, where she finished with a gold.
For now, Dipa has just returned to her sport after serving a 21-month suspension, and is looking at a race against the clock to qualify for the Paris Olympics. While the gymnast is giving all that she has in training, she's also focused on not aggravating her knee.
“I think of saving my knees because surgery has been done twice. Apart from two surgeries (to my right knee due to ACL issues), the ankle issue was there. I cannot train as forcefully as I was doing earlier. I’m fully fit now. It’s very tough, but I’m giving my 100 percent so that I can get a medal before retiring from gymnastics,” she told Sportstar at the Techno Olympica Knight.
With the conclusion of the World Championships in September, Dipa Karamakar will now have to turn to the upcoming World Cup Challenges to make it to Paris.
"Most of the qualifying spots were there in the World Championships in September. I could not participate in that. Some World Cups are coming up. Those will be really tough, because now probably Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed (to compete). Russia is a top country, the competition will be tougher. But I will give my 100 percent.”
Dipa Karmakar on her Asian Games heartbreak
Dipa Karmakar was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance, and she was allowed to come back to competitions in July 2023, just in time to qualify for the Asian Games.
The 30-year-old put up an impressive performance at the trials, where she topped the charts and was selected by the Gymnastics Federation of India. However, the Sports Ministry failed to include her in the Indian team that would be heading to Hangzhou, given that she did not meet a few criteria.
While Dipa was initially heartbroken, she found her way through it the same way she had with the challenges before.
“It’s part of life. If we knew about the circular (specifying the selection criteria), our competition style would have been different. I don’t have any problems with it. For one or two days, I was down. Then, sir (my coach Bishweshwar Nandi) and my parents were there to encourage me."
For now, Dipa Karmakar will have hundreds of fans rooting for her as she tries to qualify for the Paris Olympics.