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Dipa happy to prove a point after winning Asian gold

The 30-year-old’s top of the podium finish was a first by an Indian gymnast at the event where she had previously won a bronze way back in 2015.
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 03:50 IST
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 03:50 IST

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Bengaluru: Dipa Karmakar shut herself up at home for two days to weep, feel some self-pity and ponder about how a WADA prohibited substance entered her body. This was after the gymnast was handed a 21-month ban for testing positive for higenamine during an out-of-competition test conducted by the International Testing Agency (ITA) on October 11, 2021. 

"I went back to training the third day after receiving the news of suspension. I had a point to prove that I hadn’t done anything wrong,” reminisced Dipa who came into limelight following her fourth-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics where the Indian’s attempt of the most dangerous ‘Produnova’ vault took the world by surprise. 

“Injuries are part of sport. But suspension? I don’t know how it (higenamine) got into my body because at that time I was going through a rest period due to the knee injury. That’s why this medal means so much to me,” Dipa said about the gold she won in the women’s vault category at the Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last week. 

The 30-year-old’s top of the podium finish was a first by an Indian gymnast at the event where she had previously won a bronze way back in 2015. 

“Once I completed my suspension period, I finished first in the Asian Games trials but had to undergo another controversy regarding a late selection criterion (eventually not making the final cut for Hangzhou). That didn’t deter me either. I told myself that this wasn’t going to be the way I end my story and decided to work harder.”

Dipa, with two ACL surgeries on her right knee, entered the final at the Asian Championships by qualifying eighth. Two clean landings helped the Indian post an average score of 13.566 to fetch the gold. However, a 16th place in the over-all category meant that the only Olympic quota on offer at the event slipped away with Phillipines’ Emma Lauren Malabuyo securing the Paris ticket instead. 

While the gold is being celebrated, a missed opportunity of flying to her second Olympics makes everything bittersweet, she admitted. 

“If I'm happy 50%, I’m also feeling bad 50% because of not qualifying for Paris. But I’m the second reserve in vault as my world ranking in the category currently is fourth. Only the top two gymnasts qualify. 

“The girl (Malabuyo) who got the quota in Tashkent had represented the USA (as an alternate) at the Tokyo Olympics. She received an NOC and decided to represent Philippines. It’s very tough to get continental quotas from Asia where there are China, Japan, Korea. And I guess we need a little bit of luck too,” she explained. 

The gold medal was an antidote in what looks like the fag end of her career, but Dipa remained non-committal about her future in the sport. 

“Not thinking too much. I’m just enjoying the medal and attending felicitations here. After a hectic 4-5 months, this one week feels like a vacation,” said Dipa who is back home in Tripura for a short break before she resumes training.

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Published 06 June 2024, 03:50 IST

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