Back on song, gymnast Dipa targets Tokyo 2020

LOOKING AHEAD Dipa Karmakar feels the tough phase is behind her as she prepares for Olympics qualification.

The post-Rio Olympics time was particularly hard for Dipa Karmakar. An ACL injury took away nearly one-and-a-half years of her career and left her shaken.

But the 25-year-old beat the odds and challenges, the way she has done her entire career. The young gymnast now is focused on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when the fresh season begins next year.

Dipa shot to the limelight with a sensational show at the Rio Olympics, where she missed the bronze medal by a whisker. She, however, couldn’t build on the performance. Injury pegged her back, and the comeback demanded a lot from her.

“It was a challenge. But I told myself I cannot be defeated by it. I was lucky to get good support which made the comeback easier,” Dipa, whose autobiography, Dipa Karmakar — The Small Wonder, is all set to be released next week, told DH.

“That period was a very tough phase for me. After reaching such high level, doing my best at the practice, I got hurt. I couldn’t participate in any competition after the Rio Games. Some people said it was over for me, but I didn’t give up.”

Though she made an encouraging return with a lower rung World Cup in Turkey, the Asian Games turned out to be a low point for Dipa. She suffered a minor sprain and couldn’t make the vault finals. “I didn’t feel that hurt when I got my surgery done. The pain of not qualifying for the final cannot be described,” she recalled.

A bronze medal in a tough field in the 2018 World Cup in Germany assuaged the hurt somewhat. “My target was to reach the final. But I had worked hard, my scoring was also good because of which I got a medal,” she said.

Dipa is now single-minded in her determination to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Everyone knows how tough it is to qualify for Olympics in gymnastics. The criteria of qualification have changed; for bigger teams like the USA, China, Russia, their teams can qualify along with two individual gymnasts, so their quotas have increased. For a country like us where we only have individuals, it will be really tough. So we will do our best to qualify for the Olympics, then we will think of anything else,” she said.

The Tripura gymnast was excited about the book, which has been co-authored by her coach Bishweshwar Nandi and sports journalists Digvijay Singh Deo and Vimal Mohan.

“It is very special for me. A lot has been written about my journey; my coach, my first coach, a lot of friends, my parents have said things in the book about which even I didn’t know. When people will read all of it, I will feel very good. It will inspire a lot of children,” she said.

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Back on song, gymnast Dipa targets Tokyo 2020

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