Dipa Karmakar: ‘Work hard, never focus on the final outcome’

Vardan Pandhare
Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Tripura girl Dipa Karmakar became a household name after she became the first-ever Indian female to participate in the gymnastic event at Rio 2016 Olympics. A daughter of a weightlifting coach, Dipa has represented India at many international events, winning several medals that include World Gymnastics Challenge Cup gold, Commonwealth bronze, and Asian Championships bronze. India honoured her with a Padma Shri in 2017

Sakal Times caught up with the gymnast.
Your book, Dipa Karmakar: The Small wonder is a big hit among youngsters.
How did you decide to share your experiences through this book?
-  Many people at the Rio Olympics kept asking me where is Tripura and how could I be at the elite stage from such a small town. At that point, I felt that my story needed to be told more and more people who can get inspired and take up not just gymnastics but any sport that they like even though they are from a small state like mine.

Gymnastics as a sport has not gained popularity in India, especially among young girls. What steps can be taken so that parents can put their daughters into gymnastics?
- I think it’s quite the opposite; there has been a lot of interest that the sport has generated, especially amongst young girls. So many schools now have basic gymnastics as a part of their extra-curricular. Though it is in a much smaller number as compared to any other sport, but people are slowly picking up the sport. I think if schools introduce gymnastics in their curriculum along with level 1 coaches then definitely there will be a whole lot of kids who will be interested in the sport.

You were the first-ever Indian female gymnast to compete in the Olympics. What can you say about your experience and will you attempt Produnova at the 2020 Games?
-  As you may know, the Produnova also is known as the Death Vault. It requires a lot of hard work as the difficulty level of Produnova as a vault, around Rio was the highest. Before attempting it for the first time, I had practised it a thousand times. Only five gymnasts have successfully landed this and happy to be one of the five. At this point and whether or not I will do Produnova depends on my coach’s decision.

Post your ACL surgery how much have you recovered. You have missed many competitions leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.
-  My injury took place a year ago, and it has been very unfortunate for me. I have been in rehab, and thankfully my recovery has been great. I have started my training, but due to the ongoing pandemic, I have been staying at home and doing exercises. Given the current situation, it’s uncertain, and I will have more clarity once the air settles.

Your journey with coach Bishweshwar Nandi Sir has been a remarkable one. Please tell us about that partnership.
-  Guruji, as I call him, has been instrumental in helping me not just be a better athlete but also a better human being. The only mantra that Nandi sir has ever asked me to follow is to work hard and never focus on the final outcome.

Despite being flat-footed, you have excelled in a sport like gymnastics. How did you overcome the hurdle?
- I started gymnastics when I was five and a half years old. And because of my feet, I had to put enormous efforts and hard work. I strongly feel that it is the attitude towards your inabilities that brings you down and not your inability itself. The way you deal with the setbacks dictates your journey ahead, so it is always important to have a positive mind frame. In 2007 Guruji saw the potential in me, and that’s when we decided to give gymnastics a shot.

What is your fitness regime?
- Since a year, I have been off intensive training. Therefore I have been focusing on just being fit with daily exercises along with swimming. I have kept myself strictly off sugar, and junk food and have been on a protein diet.

You are now India’s most popular gymnast; youngsters look up to you as a role model. How does that feel?
-  Thank you! It always feels like a dream, to be honest. I never thought that coming fourth in the Olympics would take me so far. It certainly feels amazing, but at the same time, it’s important to be grounded.

Lastly, who has been your inspiration to take up a sport like gymnastics?
- I think the inspiration has to be my father, who has been an athlete himself. He has always been a support for both his daughters and never made us feel anything less than a boy. He majorly inspired me to take up the sport.

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