World Cup cancellation dashes Indian gymnasts' Olympic qualifying chances

The cancellation of two World Cups that were part of the Olympic qualifications has dashed the hopes of Indian gymnasts, including Dipa Karmakar, to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Karmakar missed the bronze medal by a narrow margin in the women’s vault final at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she finished fourth.   -  REUTERS

The cancellation of two World Cups that were part of the Olympic qualifications has dashed the hopes of Indian gymnasts, including Dipa Karmakar, to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Doha (Qatar), Baku (Azerbaijan) and Cottbus (Germany) were scheduled to host three World Cups in February-March, but the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) was forced to cancel two events and postpone one due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karmakar’s coach Bisheswar Nandi is waiting for a clearer picture to emerge as he remains hopeful of the world body coming up with fresh dates for the cancelled events.

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“A few World Cup qualifiers have been cancelled. Probably FIG will give fresh dates," Nandi, a Dronacharya awardee, said. “Probably in April or May they might think of hosting the World Cups. It all depends on how things evolve and what FIG decides. We are waiting for a clearer picture to emerge.”

Nandi said Karmakar has been preparing hard, but there are no international competitions left to qualify for the Olympics.

“Dipa is fit and training hard. This long break has helped her to regain her fitness,” he said.

Karmakar has been struggling with injuries ever since undergoing surgery to treat an anterior crucial ligament injury in 2017. She had aggravated her injury after being forced to withdraw from the Doha World Cup in 2019. She hasn’t competed in any international event since.

According to Nandi, a gymnast has to achieve 90 points to earn an Olympics berth.

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“She has 45 points now and she needs 45 more to qualify. If the three World Cups are held and she can participate, then we are confident of qualifying for Tokyo,” Nandi said. “She had won bronze in Germany and reached the finals at Baku, so she got 30 and 15 points, respectively.”

The world body has cancelled the World Cup in Cottbus, which was slated to start on February 25. The World Cup in Baku, scheduled to begin on March 4, too, has been scrapped.

Karmakar missed the bronze medal by a narrow margin in the women’s vault final at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she finished fourth.