Dipa Karmakar - In with a medal chance

"Whatever I have learnt during my training, I have to go and perform there in the Olympics. My first target is to reach the final," Dipa told Sportstar before boarding the flight to Rio.

“My preparation has been going on nicely. My coach has been preparing me well for the biggest challenge ahead and I want to give my best in Rio,” said Dipa.   -  SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY

It’s exam time for Dipa Karmakar! She has prepared well and wants to do well when it matters the most.

“Whatever I have learnt during my training, I have to go and perform there in the Olympics. My first target is to reach the final,” Dipa told Sportstar before boarding the flight to Rio.

Under the watchful eyes of her personal coach B. S. Nandi, she has been leading the life of a soldier. Every hour is marked for some activity — training from 8.30 a.m. to 12 noon and then 4.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday; multi-gym and conditioning on Sunday and sauna bath and ice bath on Thursday evenings.

“My preparation has been going on nicely. My coach has been preparing me well for the biggest challenge ahead and I want to give my best in Rio,” she adds.

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) played a big role in her preparation and Dipa, the first woman Commonwealth Games and Asian championship medallist from the country, is grateful to the SAI for making available facilities of international standard at her home training base, the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Agartala, Tripura.

“The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has helped a lot. After my qualification for the Olympics, the SAI has procured latest equipment for me from France in quick time. It includes vaulting table, floor exercise equipment, trampoline and others. I want to profusely thank SAI for its support.”

So far, everything has fallen in place nicely and now it’s just the wait for the big moment.

Come August 7, Dipa, the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, will realise her dream of competing in the sporting extravaganza. But knowing her expertise at the vaulting table, where she caught everyone's eyes by doing the extremely difficult Prudunova vault, Dipa is secretly nurturing hopes of somersaulting to glory in the southern hemisphere and making her 23rd birthday, on August 9, a memorable affair.

After all, she has achieved the highest score of 15.1 in the Prudunova vault and is capable of taking it forward. Even if she repeats her highest score, she stands a good chance of ending within the medal bracket.

Nandi, who is a constant source of inspiration for Dipa, keeps telling her: “You give your best in whatever you do.” He asserts that his ward is capable of doing a 15.7 or 15.8.

If that happens, then the unthinkable may also happen. It can give goose bumps to every sports-loving Indian and may trigger a movement to set the house in order in the faction-ridden Gymnastics Federation of India.

But Dipa is not thinking about anything else. She wants to perform the best possible way she can and make her performance a memorable affair. “Even though I will take part in all four events, I am focusing on my strength — vault. I am in the phase of fine-tuning my execution in vault in order to make it look more beautiful.”

The biggest factor in Dipa’s favour is her adequate exposure in elite events. “I don’t have any fear of the big stage now because I have already competed with all the big gymnasts in the World Championship.”

The icing on the cake, which serves as a morale-booster, is the recent recognition, ‘World Class Gymnast,’ bestowed on her by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). “This is the first time someone from our country has received such recognition. This is a big honour for me ahead of the Olympics,” she says.

In order to achieve her target, the Agartala girl is keeping herself away from all sorts of distraction. “I don’t have a phone these days. Whenever I need it I use my coach’s phone. I am only concentrating on my practice... I am just thinking about repeating my good work in the Olympics,” she says.