Gymnast Dipa creates history, qualifies for Rio

Dipa Karmakar garnered a total score of 52.698 points in the Olympics qualifying event to book a berth for artistic gymnastics in Rio. Apart from being the first Indian woman to qualify, she will also be the first Indian gymnast to compete in Olympics after 52 long years.

India's Dipa Karmakar scored 15.066 points in her first vault, the much difficult Produnova. It was the highest among the 14 competitors but a poor show in the uneven bars took her points down. ( File photo)   -  REUTERS

Commonwealth Games and Asian Championship bronze medallist Dipa Karmakar created history by becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics.

At the Rio de Janeiro Test event, which was the final qualifying event for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio, Dipa garnered a total score of 52. 698, including a high score of 15.066 in her pet vault event, in the all-around competition on Sunday to make the cut for the mega event.

Apart from being the first Indian woman, she will also be the first Indian gymnast qualifying for the quadrennial extravaganza after 52 long years. Since the independence of the country, 11 Indian male gymnast have taken part in the Olympics (two in 1952, three in 1956 and six in 1964) but this will be the first for an Indian woman at the Olympics.

The International Federation of Gymnastics (Federation Internationale de Gymnastique) has confirmed Dipa's Rio Games qualification in its official release.

"Following the Women's Qualification Competition at the Gymnastics Test Event in Rio, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) herewith confirms the list of nations and individual gymnasts that have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," the world body said in its release.

Dipa has been listed as the 79th gymnast among individual qualifiers in the list of women's artistic gymnast who have qualified for the Rio Olympics.

In vault, Dipa was tied at the top with European champion Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland on 15.066. But a poor show in the uneven bars took her points down as she collected 11.700, the second worse among the 14 participants. The Tripura girl secured 13.366 and 12.566 points in beam and floor exercises.



Before leaving for Rio, she had told me that she was determined to win an Olympic berth. After achieving this, she was extremely happy. Our whole family is ecstatic. We are waiting for her return to celebrate


Deepak Kagra, an international referee, said that after's Dipa's strong performance it was certain that she would qualify for Rio Olympics. "It was a very good score from Dipa and we were certain that she would qualify. Now the world body has published the names of the gymnasts who have qualified for the Olympics and her name is there. The gymnastics community is proud of Dipa's achievements," he said.

For the Rio Games, Dipa is considered a strong contender for a medal in vault. “She has given a good show and is a medal prospect in vault in the Olympics. She should keep her focus on her training to improve her performance and the Government should provide all support so that she can train abroad. After all, it is a matter of prestige for the country,” said seasoned coach R.N. Mangla.

Dipa's father Dulal Karmakar was delighted. “Before leaving for Rio, she had told me that she was determined to win an Olympic berth. After achieving this, she was extremely happy. Our whole family is ecstatic. We are waiting for her return to celebrate,” said Karmakar.

However, the doting father said Dipa needed to work towards winning a medal in the Olympics. “I will give her some advice about keeping her focus on getting a medal (in the Rio Games),” Karmakar added.

The 22-year-old could not clinch an Olympic berth in the World Championships in November last as she finished outside the podium (fifth place).

She was earlier put as second reserve for the ongoing Olympic Test event in Rio but was informed last month that she had sneaked into the shortlist of participants.

Dipa had created history by becoming the first woman gymnast to win a medal — a bronze — in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. She then became the first Indian woman gymnast to feature in the finals of World Championships in November last.

The sport of gymnastics has been in turmoil in the country in the the last few years with rival factions holding elections and claiming to be the national federation. Even the camps for the gymnasts has been held under the aegis of Sports Authority of India.