In gymnastics, India’s medal hopes hinge on two athletes — Dipa Karmakar and Rakesh Patra.
Karmakar — who won bronze medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2015 Asian championships in Hiroshima before missing an Olympics medal by a whisker at the 2016 Rio Games — recently captured attention by landing a gold medal at the World Challenge Cup in Mersin, Turkey. Her performance there was a testimony to her grit — the diminutive gymnast had made a comeback following knee surgery.
Karmakar, who renewed attention on the double-front somersault Produnova vault — the vault of death that is considered the hardest in women’s gymnastics — has had to forego the risky routine, which used to fetch her more difficulty points, in order to protect her knee. Also, a reduction in difficulty points from 7 to 6.4 for the manoeuvre was another reason behind Karmakar’s decision to take a break from the Produnova.
For the highly competitive Asian Games, where athletes from China, Japan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are expected to set the bar high, Karmarkar must fine-tune her execution in order to stay in the hunt for a medal.
On the men’s side, Patra, who has been the best Indian male gymnast in recent times, can give a good fight to elite gymnasts from China and Japan in his favourite event — the rings. He needs to keep his composure while performing the dismount and aim to achieve a clean landing. India’s other representatives include Ashish Kumar, who won bronze medals in the floor routine at the 2010 Asian and Commonwealth Games, and World Cup bronze medal winner B. Aruna Reddy.
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