'Dipa practised Produnova vault 75 times a day'

"Now a lot of young girls want to be like her. I tell them that to be like Dipa they have to train hard like Dipa. I feel proud that people now recognise me because of Dipa and my husband (Bishweswar Nandi)," Soma Nandi, Deepa's first coach, said.

Dipa Karmakar learnt her first lessons in gymnastics at the tin-roofed Vivekananda Byayamgar in Agartala.   -  Y.B. Sarangi

Gymnastics coach Soma Nandi has smilingly accepted the fact that her husband Bishweswar Nandi, who trains her one-time ward Dipa Karmakar, would be away most of the time.

Mention her behind-the-scene contribution in grooming Dipa, Soma, patiently giving interviews at her modest Pragati Road house here, speaks about her intriguing journey.

“I am also a gymnastics coach and love the sport. I don’t have any problem in Nandi Sir staying away from home for long periods because of the sport. I have adjusted and made the sacrifice. Had I not made the sacrifice, Dipa Karmakar would not have been Dipa Karmakar today,” Soma told Sportstar while celebrating Dipa’s extraordinary effort in Rio.

 

Dipa’s rock solid determination and willingness for hard work convinced the Nandi couple that the girl would go far. Dipa, who learnt her first lessons in gymnastics under Soma as a five-year-old at the tin-roofed Vivekananda Byayamgar, landed a gold medal in balance beam in the North East Games within two-and-a-half years.

That opened her path to join the Netaji Subhash Regional Coaching Centre where she came under the guidance of Bishweswar Nandi, a multiple National champion.

“I was fully confident of my husband's capabilities. I encouraged him to back Dipa and see to it that she achieves a lot,” said Soma.

Even today, the two jointly work to help their ward, whom they treat like their daughter.

“My husband shares Dipa’s videos with me and asks for my inputs and I provide my observations about her performance in each and every apparatus. I gave my inputs about her Produnova vault — that her second somersault was slow and affected her landing. He also knew it but he was assured once I confirmed this.

“In the three months prior to the Olympics, she practised the Produnova vault 75 times a day, including both sessions. This is stunning but she is a hard working girl. We are always impressed with her determination. She had an ankle injury on the first day of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The doctor said she could not compete but she went ahead and won the bronze medal and did a phenomenal 15.1 with the Produnova vault.”

Soma is extremely delighted that Dipa’s Olympic feat has inspired many youngsters. “Now a lot of young girls want to be like her. I tell them that to be like Dipa they have to train hard like her.

“I feel proud that people now recognise me because of Dipa and my husband,” said Soma.