Dipa lauds Indian coaches

Addressing a large and colourful gathering at the grand felicitation ceremony organised by the Tripura state government, Dipa highlighted the fact that the athletes who did well in the Olympics were coached by Indians.

Dipa Karmakar and her coach B. S. Nandi are given a rousing reception in Agartala, Tripura.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Amidst the celebratory mood on the occasion of her homecoming, gymnastics icon Dipa Karmakar on Monday said that the Indian coaches deserved equal respect for their good work in the recently-concluded Rio Olympics.

Addressing a large and colourful gathering at the grand felicitation ceremony organised by the Tripura state government at the Vivekananda Maidan here, Dipa highlighted the fact that the athletes who did well in the Olympics were coached by Indians.

“The Indian coaches are capable of producing top class athletes. Olympics silver medallist P.V. Sindhu's coach (P. Gopi Chand) is Indian, bronze medallist Sakshi Malik's coach is Indian (Kuldeep Malik) and my good performance is because of an Indian coach (Bishweswar Nandi),” said Dipa in her short speech.

The star performer and her coach, who were driven down to the Vivekananda Maidan from the airport in an open jeep decorated with Tricolours, also gave a strong social message. “I request all the girls to study well and play sports. 'Beti bachao, beti padhao, beti khelao' (Save a girl child, teach a girl child and make a girl child play).”

Earlier, Dipa was felicitated by all sports associations of the state after doing a round of the huge ground and thanking all the spectators who braved the scorching sun to fill the stands.

Nandi asserted that his ward would put up a better performance in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “When Dipa finished fourth in Rio, I promised her that in the next Olympics I would help her get a medal. For this I request the state government to complete the reconstruction work of the regional centre for gymnastics here as soon as possible.”

State Sports Minister Sahid Chowdhury promised to expedite the regional centre's reconstruction work and take all steps to put up a foam pit and upgrade training facilities for Dipa and other gymnasts in the state.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar announced that Dipa would be promoted as an Assistant Director and Nandi would be promoted as a Deputy Director in the Sports Department. The state government announced that all educational institutions would remain closed on Tuesday in Dipa's honour.

Dipa's school, the Abhoynagar Nazrul Smriti Vidyalaya, also hosted a function in her honour. Hundreds of students and teachers gathered on the school campus to have a glimpse of Dipa and click selfies with her.

“I am so proud of Dipa. She has done the school proud. This will inspire other youngsters to take up sports,” said school headmaster Subrata Malaka, who defied his ill health to attend the function.

Another teacher Bala Acharjee, who taught Bengali to Dipa, said, “Dipa is an honest and strong-willed person. That's why she could manage her sport and studies well. Since she was busy with gymnastics, the school helped her by conducting a special seating when she missed an examination,” said the teacher.

Pinki Sarkar, a Class V student, said she was inspired to see Dipa. “It is a proud moment for all of us. It is not easy to do well in the Olympics,” she said pointing at Dipa, who left for her home being escorted by two police jeeps.

Elsewhere at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre, the coaches – Bijon Saha, Rathindra Kumar Roy and Nantu Sharma, who were Nandi's contemporary gymnasts – were delighted to hear the confirmation about Dipa and Nandi getting Khel Ratna and Dronacharya awards respectively.