Dipa receives a rousing welcome

Dipa receives a rousing welcome

Dipa receives a rousing welcome

India’s trailblazer in gymnastics, Dipa Karmakar, returned home in the wee hours of Saturday and was left astounded by the roaring welcome.

Somewhere it deepened her regret for narrowly missing the medal, but the warmth and enthusiasm around her quickly transformed the heartburn into a vow to excel in the next edition.

The 23-year-old understood she was now looked upon as a role model with her coach Bishweshwar Nandi announcing plans of grooming at least three girls and boys each by the time 2020 Tokyo Games come calling.

Expectedly, Dipa and Nandi were bleary eyed from their long travel but didn’t hesitate from obliging the long queue of media till afternoon. In the evening, the duo came down to meet young talents in gymnastics, badminton, table tennis and boxing at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, the venue which had become her home for three months before Rio Games.

Budding gymnasts lined-up to meet “Dipa didi” who had spawned the dream of Olympics across gender and age-groups in the country. Dipa entered the gymnastics hall amidst the clamour, clap and clatter of its members but didn’t forget to touch the floor of the hall before making an entry. The parents of young athletes jostled to get their “selfie” with her, coaches lined-up to pay their regards, a mother amidst the crowd asked her child if she would like to become like Dipa.

“It feels very good but had I returned with a medal it would have been better,” shrugged Dipa, who became the first Indian gymnast to enter the Olympic final. She won the hearts of the country with her fourth-place finish, missing out on a medal by just 0.15 points.

“It is not that we get any less facility as compared to foreign gymnasts. We just need to work hard. Today whatever I am, I am because of Nandi sir. I don’t need a foreign coach.”

Nandi, who never left her side, even holding her hand as she made her way, smiled patronisingly. “We did our best in three months we got after her Olympic qualification. We got all the apparatus we had requested from SAI and Sports Ministry. They have promised to get us few more apparatus. It comes down to coaches. If a coach nurtures a child with love and care for training, then why will they not respond?  It is now our target to get three Dipas and three boys by next games,” Nandi said.

"Whatever I knew I gave my all in Dipa's preparation. People say she is doing the death vault in Pradunova. But I don't see it that way. Today in which sport there is not a risk? One just needs to do it properly. We worked very hard to perfect it."

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