Dipa eyes strong return

Dipa eyes strong return

Dipa eyes strong return

The Produnova, the artistic gymnastic vault, was made famous in the country by Dipa Karmakar. The Tripura girl's heroics at the Rio Olympics almost gave her a bronze medal. After the 'vault of death', Dipa is in pursuit of glory this year with a different routine.

An ACL injury saw Dipa endure a frustrating 2017. A Grade-2 injury got aggravated during a floor exercise, forcing her out of action for the entire year. The 24-year-old, who has overcome a tough recovery phase, is set to compete at the Commonwealth Games with the Handspring 540.

"After a straight body somersault, it has a 540-degree turn. Generally, one full round is 360 degrees but this is one and a half. Acing the 540-degree turn is my first target and then I will aim higher," Dipa said.

Dipa is not new at handling tough routines. Coach Bisweswar Nandi said she needs to regain her strength before getting back to the Produnova. "It's not that we have left the Produnova. We will start this again from 2019. It has a very heavy landing and she has just had an ACL tear. So we need to get her stronger before attempting that," he explained.

Tough phase

Her determination helped her carve out a success story in an unchartered path. It was the same hunger to compete and excel that gave Dipa the strength to fight the injury. "Mentally, I wasn't affected that much. But it was indeed very tough. When this injury happened I was at such a high level. Suddenly, I had to leave everything and focus on my rehab. I am young and this happens to even older gymnasts. Look at Aliya Mustafina of Russia. She suffered ACL in 2010 but after that she won gold medals at both London 2012 and Rio 2016. So I can also script a comeback," she said, oozing confidence.

She admitted that it was not easy to stay away from the sport. "As my fellow athletes practiced, I would spend my time at the rehab. I was away from the apparatus and would just do the basic training. It was disappointing to miss the World Championship and the Asian Championship," she said.

It's been over a year since Dipa scripted the inspiring tale and the gymnastics scene is slowly improving in the country, felt Nandi. "Parents are showing more interest in the sport. Many want their children to be like Dipa. After the Olympics, a gymnastics league was also held. So a lot has changed," he offered.

Expectations are high on Dipa but the youngster is focused on the job. "There is no pressure. Whatever the coach says, I just follow. Nothing is more important than hard work. If you work hard, you can reach anywhere.

"We come from Tripura and we chose a sport not many knew. For 12 years we just practiced with the Indian equipment. We didn't even have the floor exercise equipments. Only in 2011 we got it. So I have reached here only because of hard work," she said.

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