Coach Nandi: Target is to ensure Dipa reaches Asiad gymnastics finals

Dipa showed no signs of wear and tear as she scored a 14.150 to win gold at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup last month.

It is the Produnova that had catapulted Dipa into collective consciousness two years back.   -  PTI

Under no illusions about the enormity of his task at the Asian Games , Bishweshwar Nandi , coach to Indian gymnastics’ golden girl Dipa Karmakar, said the “first target” will be to make the finals of the vault event in artistic gymnastics.

“I don’t want her to think of a medal from the outset. She is coming back after an injury and it won’t be easy. I want her to reach the finals. That is the first target,” Nandi said.

READ: Dipa battles against injury, self-doubt to corner glory

Returning to action after a long injury lay—off of nearly two years, Dipa clinched the gold medal in the vault event of FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup at Mersin, Turkey, last month.

The 24—year old from Tripura showed no signs of wear and tear as she scored a 14.150 to win gold after topping the qualification round with a score of 13.400.

“I know that expectations have been heightened after her comeback gold in the Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup. There will be extra pressure and you cannot avoid it.

READ: Dipa named in 10-member artistic gymnastics squad for Asian Games

“Pressure is on me as her coach, on her and the audience too. Everyone expects Dipa to win a medal whenever she is in action,” said Nandi, who saw his student miss a medal by a whisker and finish fourth in the vault event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Putting the best foot forward

Recuperating from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury she picked up after the Olympics, a surgery kept Dipa out of the Commonwealth Games.

Rating the Asian Games as the “second Olympics”, Nandi said he is leaving no stone unturned in preparing Dipa.

The 18th Asian Games is scheduled to be held from August 18 to September 2 in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

“Asian Games is like second Olympics. Simply because there are players from China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Uzbekistan.

“For us in Indian gymnastics, these countries have some of the best players and the competition is very tough.

READ: I’ll be back with Produnova after Asian Games, says Dipa

“Therefore whatever we are teaching Dipa, everything is aimed at her putting the best foot forward at the Games,” said Nandi, a Dronacharya awardee.

Apart from Dipa’s old adversary Oksana Chusovitna of Uzbekistan, there will be other top contenders like China’s Liu Jinru and Wang Yan, Japan’s Sae Miyakama, to contend with.

Dropping Produnova a hard call

At the World Challenge Cup, Dipa chose to do a Handspring 360 and Tsukuhara 720 with difficulty ratings of 5.4 and 5.6, almost a point less than Produnova (6.4) under the new rating system.

It is the Produnova that had catapulted Dipa - among the five women in history to have successfully performed the “Vault of Death” - into collective consciousness two years back.

Nandi admitted that dropping Produnova from Dipa’s arsenal was a hard call but keeping her injury in mind, they could not afford the risk.

“We could not take the risk because it’s not been long since she recovered. She only started practising at full tilt after the CWG.”

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A learning curve

Nandi conceded that there could be others better prepared than Dipa, and whatever the outcome it would always be a learning curve.

“In gymnastics, whatever we teach and rehearse, there is no room to do anything else. So she will have to perform both the vaults and she cannot do anything else. This is a different sport and it’s not like others. She has maintained her speed during vaults and she cannot increase or decrease it.

“We are not thinking about what will happen in Indonesia. There could be others who are better equipped than her. If she does well, nothing like it. If others have a better day, we will bring back the experience from the competition,” he said.

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