Shannon Miller: 'Dipa has showed the way for the youth of India'

Seven-time Olympic medallist Miller, who is in India as the brand ambassador of the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020, was all praise for fearless Dipa.

Olympic medal-winning gymnast Shannon Miller is the brand ambassador for Tata Mumbai Marathon.   -  Vivek Bendre

In her long and illustrious career, Shannon Miller has won seven Olympic medals. On the personal front, the 42-year-old gymnast has survived ovarian cancer and has come back stronger to inspire many.

Miller, who is in India as the brand ambassador of the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020, said that Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar has motivated young athletes in the country immensely.

In the 2016 Olympics, Karmakar won hearts after finishing fourth in the vault finals. And Miller says that the fearless show by the Indian was indeed inspiring. “What Dipa has done is that she has really shown the other athletes in India and the world that they are on a stage and that opens up the younger generation athletes all over India to know that it is possible (to succeed) with hard work and passion,” Miller said.

“(She showed) you can go to the heights of your career even in Olympic games. It’s a great way to inspire the youth of India,” she added.

During the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Dipa stunned the world with the Produnova which is considered a death-defying vault. While many gymnasts prefer not trying out the high-risk routine, Miller feels that it’s up to the individual to take a call. “It depends on what skills you are taking about. It’s important in any sport to take as much precaution as you can and be as safe as possible. Safety has to come first,” she said.

With the Tokyo Olympics a few months away, Miller is pinning her hopes on Simone Biles, the reigning world and Olympic champion. “All eyes are on Simone at this moment. I am just excited to watch great gymnastics. Simone is 22, she has done an amazing job, it is so much fun to watch her. But you also have so many athletes out there, representing their countries,” she said.

Miller’s tally of five medals — two silvers, three bronzes — at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona was the most medals won by a US athlete across sport at the Summer Games, and she feels that stricter routines have helped Biles come a long way.

“She has such an incredible difficulty in her routine. They start at a higher level than everyone else. So not only does she start from a more difficulty in a higher score, she is able to perform with them at such consistent rates that it bodes well for her and a lot of medals (will come her way),” she said.