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Gymnastics

‘This medal is special’: Dipa Karmakar

Gold at the Asian Senior C’ships is a testament to the gymnast’s tenacious character.

‘This medal is special’: Dipa Karmakar
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Dipa Karmakar had previously won bronze at the Asian Senior C'ships at Hiroshima in 2015. (File photo: Twitter/Odisha Sports)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 27 May 2024 5:09 AM GMT

When Dipa Karmakar finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics vault final, she emerged as the face of Indian gymnastics.

With it came expectations and Olympic glory seemed within grasp.

Sadly, those dreams have eluded Karmakar. She has since struggled with injuries that required two knee surgeries. Then there was the 21-month suspension, handed for a doping violation.

And the final nail in the coffin was the opportunity missed to qualify for Paris 2024, brought by her suspension and thereafter, owing to a decision not to send the squad for one of the four Apparatus World Cups.

But Karmakar is no quitter.

A spirited competitor

At Tashkent on Sunday, the 30-year-old scored 13.566 twice to finish with an overall score of 13.566 in the final and bag gold. Close on her heels were two North Koreans, Kim Son Hyang (13.466) and Jo Kyong Byol (12.966).

That Karmakar shrugged off her disappointments to pocket gold, a first for India in the Asian Senior Championships, speaks volumes of her tenacious outlook.

“I can’t say how happy I am,” Karmakar told The Hindu.

“This performance has come after surgeries and suspension. No other (Indian) gymnast has done this. So, this medal is really special,” she added.

Karmaka also thanked her coach Nandi Bishweshwar and cited his support in standing by her through what were clearly difficult times for the gymnast.

“Dipa overcame odds to achieve this. She is heading towards the end of her career. I will speak to her father and see whether she will continue,” said Bishweshwar.

Enjoying the moment

Qualification to Paris 2024 via these Asian Championships was only possible by claiming the best all-rounder performance title.

Karmakar’s chances, therefore, were slim. And that place eventually went to Filipino Emma Malabuyo. The Indian, meanwhile, finished 14th in the all-round final.

That said, Karmakar will cherish this victory.

“Of course, not being able to qualify for the Olympics was a disappointment. But now I want to enjoy this moment,” she concluded.

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