The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Imtiaz Ahmed, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
Dipa Karmakar has created history by becoming the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. The 22-year-old put up a strong performance in the final qualifier, scoring 52.698 points to secure a place in the Rio Olympics 2016.
Behind Karmakar’s achievement, is a story of guts, hard work, and determination. Karmakar is one of the few female gymnasts to regularly land the Produnova, one of the most dangerous vaults in the gymnastic world. She has also logged the highest score on a Produnova in the world.
While artistic gymnastics looks beautiful and graceful, the Produnova demonstrates how it requires considerable strength and courage. The risky manoeuvre involves running towards the spring, a jump by blocking the hand, swinging the legs into two somersaults during flight, and finally, a difficult landing that can break the neck and cause spinal injuries if it is unbalanced.
In 2014, Karmakar had become the first Indian woman gymnast to win a Commonwealth Games gymnastics medal, when she got a bronze at the vault event in Glasgow in 2014. She was also the first Indian woman gymnast to compete in the finals of the World Championships in Nov. 2015.
Karmakar is also the first Indian gymnast from the north-eastern state of Tripura, one of the few regions in India where the sport has an avid following. The daughter of a weightlifting coach, she began practising gymnastics at the age of six, and had to train extra hard because she had flat feet as a kid.
In cricket-mad India, gymnastics still has a low profile, but Karmakar is slowly changing that. The last Indian gymnast —- male or female — to compete in the Olympics was in 1964.