Tripura Tornado: Olympian Dipa Karmakar

BY SAMHITA BAROOAH

“She is very fast on the ground and her height is suited for gymnastics”, said Dulal Karmakar weightlifting coach for Sport Authority of India and the proud father of Arjuna Awardee Dipa Karmakar, first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Rio Olympics in August, 2016. Belonging to a family of sports persons with her aunt being a swimming champion and father being a weightlifting coach, Dipa was destined to be a sportsperson. Her father said, “I have two daughters and Dipa is younger and we wanted one of them to be in sports. That is how Dipa was christened into gymnastics at a tender age of 5 years.” Since then she has never looked back. Dipa has won Bronze medals in gymnastics during the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and again during Asian Championships in Hiroshima in 2015. She is also one of the five woman gymnast in the world to successfully complete the most difficult Produnova Vault with the highest score of 15.0001.

Her determination and abilities were visible to her first coach Ms. Soma Nandi at a very young age. Currently Mr. B.S. Nandi is coaching Dipa as she is gearing up for the Rio Olympics in August this year. “Dipa’s mother Ms. Gita Karmakar has been her pillar of strength throughout her sports career with whom, she would share all her trials and triumphs,” said Mr. Karmakar when asked how her mother supported her. Dipa has been working hard towards her maiden Olympic dream with 8 hours of rigorous practice every day at the Indira Gandhi Arena (IGA), New Delhi one of the best world class facilities for gymnastics in India. Her schedule is such that she has to maintain a strict diet to keep fit. Her father said, “Being a Bengali her diet is incomplete without fish and rice but these days she prefers to have a more regulated diet to keep fit.”

Dipa Karmakar has worked with great diligence for the upcoming Olympic event which will be a defining moment for her career as well as for the country. In India these days, most of the Olympic medallists give up their sports careers after a few medals to join a Government job or build a political career. But Dipa Karmakar seems to have a steadfast goal for her future in the next few years. Her father said that she will continue to play gymnastics and prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Japan as well.

With sportswomen like Dipa Karmakar, many young women and men are aspiring to build their careers in sports. We need more parents like Mr. Dulal Karmakar who shared that, “When all other parents used to tell their children to become doctors and engineers, I told my daughter, Dipa to pursue sports because sports always connects. Today there is war between countries, people are dying across borders, but a sport is always a symbol of peace. India and Pakistan have fought wars for many years but sports have brought the countries together in many ways.” A sport is also a suitable career for women in India. Dipa is appointed as a sports officer with Airtel Sports for the last one year which is again a huge career boost for young sportspersons like her.

In the run-up to the Olympics in Rio amidst the uncertainties of Xika virus and all other challenges, the country is eagerly pinning its hope on Dipa Karmakar a gymnast from Tripura in North East India. With her entry into the international mega sports events, the windows of opportunities for aspiring gymnasts in India specifically in the North East Region have opened up. The facilities for gymnastics are available in the North Eastern States of Assam, Manipur and Tripura so far but such facilities are yet to reach world class standards. In India only IGA in New Delhi provides international facilities for training for gymnastics currently. In future with the help of all concerned authorities and stakeholders such sports facilities will be available in all the 8 North Eastern States as well so that every hidden Dipa Karmakar can emerge as India’s Olympic champion in gymnastics.

When I asked whether Dipa will have family support irrespective of the outcome at the Olympics, Dipa’s father ended by saying, “I want Dipa to perform her best for all the Olympic events.” Even though he cannot accompany his daughter to Rio for the major event, but he shared that he wishes her to give her best. Such humble confidence of a father for his Olympian daughter will definitely bring flying colours to India’s First Woman Gymnast Dipa Karmakar in Olympics. The whole country is wishing that this Tripura Tornado triumphs in Rio Olympics.

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah is a Researcher and Travel Writer.