Dipa Karmakar: Looking for new vaults

With the difficulty level of the Produnova vault pruned because of inherent dangers, ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar is exploring other vaulting methods to score points.

Dipa Karmakar is leaving no stone unturned in her preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.   -  Reuters

Move over ‘Produnova,’ India’s gymnastics ace, Dipa Karmakar, is set to try out a new move.

The star from Agartala is training hard to get accustomed to the new style, which she prefers to keep under wraps. “Let that be a surprise,” she told Sportstar.

Returning to action at the World Challenge Cup in Turkey last year, Karmakar opted for the Handspring 360 and the Tsukuhara 720 on the way to her gold medal winning feat. She had scripted history by becoming the first Indian gymnast to clinch a gold medal at a global event.

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Karmakar says that the process of getting used to the ‘new move’ has already started.

“The difficulty level in Produnova has been reduced to 6.4 from 7 and the point system has become more complicated. So, it is important to try out a new move to get more points,” Karmakar said at the launch of her biography, Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder, in Mumbai.

Known as the ‘Vault of Death,’ the Produnova requires a gymnast to run up to the vaulting table and first do a handspring — that is literally toss himself/herself into the air using the vault as a jumping board. Then, the gymnasts are required to do two neat somersaults mid-air. After that they have to land on their feet.

Considering how dangerous it could be for the athletes, the world gymnastics body has reduced the difficulty level. “I agree that Produnova was my strength, but I have to move on. I need one good move so that I can fetch more points and that’s the only objective at the moment. That will help me in the World Championships, Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games,” Karmakar said. “I have already started working on the new style but I want to keep it a secret,” she said.

Dipa Karmakar with Sachin Tendulkar after the cricket legend released her biography, Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder, in Mumbai.   -  Supreet Sapkal


With the Tokyo Olympics a year-and-a- half away, Karmakar is focusing on the World Cup, followed by the World Championships. For that she was training at the Aakar Gymnastics Hall in Kalyan, but has returned to Agartala as the Tripura government has finally installed a foam pit and built a state-of-the art gymnasium. After the Rio Games in 2016, Karmakar had requested the state government to install a foam pit in her training centre, but it took nearly three years to get things done.

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But Karmakar is happy that things have finally fallen in place. “This is the first time we will get a foam pit in Agartala. It is a big thing for all of us. The state government has helped us immensely and Tata Steel has sponsored the foam. It will help all of us,” she said.

After coming fourth in the Rio Olympics, an injury was a major setback for Karmakar. She hopes to make up for lost time. “It was a tough phase and the injury came at a very crucial juncture. It was really difficult as I wasted a year-and-a-half. It gets tough to bounce back but I am glad that I could,” she said.

With her sights set on the Tokyo Games, Karmakar hopes to make it count in the Olympic qualifiers. “The qualification process is tougher now and it is difficult to understand the rules. Things have changed. If I get a medal at the World Championships, then I can get a direct entry to Tokyo. For that you need to go through the World Cups,” she said.

“The World Cup and the World Championships are really important, so I am thinking of Stuttgart at the moment and not Tokyo,” Karmakar said.