How Dipa Karmakar Became The First Indian To Win Gold At The Asian Championships

L: Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar R:  Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar showing her gold medal alongside her coach Bishweshwar Nandi
L: News on AIR R: PTI

Dipa Karmakar's name has been synonymous with defying gravity and breaking barriers in Indian gymnastics. This past weekend, she added another golden chapter to her story, becoming the first Indian gymnast to win gold at the Asian Senior Championships in the women's vault event. But Karmakar's journey to the top has been far from ordinary, paved with unwavering grit and a fighting spirit.

Born in Tripura, the 30-year-old gymnast began her training at the tender age of six. However, her path wasn't without hurdles. Flat feet, a physical challenge for gymnasts, could have easily deterred her. But with her characteristic determination, Karmakar overcame it through sheer hard work. Her dedication soon started reaping the rewards, with a cabinet overflowing with medals from state, national, and international championships.

The year 2014 marked a turning point. Karmakar became the first Indian woman gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, a bronze in the vault finals. This was just the beginning. Karmakar then went on to add a bronze medal at the Asian Gymnastics Championships and a historic fifth-place finish at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship to her list of national firsts. She followed it up with a historic performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the vault final. There, she captivated the audience with her daring Produnova vault, one of the most difficult maneuvers in women's gymnastics, ultimately finishing a close fourth. She narrowly lost the chance to secure an Olympic medal by just 0.15 points.

Karmakar's career hasn't been without setbacks. Injuries, two knee surgeries, and a 21-month doping suspension tested her resilience. Yet, in true Karmakar fashion, she bounced back. Her recent gold medal at the Asian Championships is a testament to her unwavering spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence.

L: Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar R:  Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar showing her gold medal alongside her coach Bishweshwar Nandi
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"I can’t say how happy I am. This performance has come after surgeries and suspension. No other (Indian) gymnast has done this. So, this medal is really special. I must thank (my coach Bishweshwar) Nandi sir. He has been with me through all my difficult times.”

Dipa Karmakar, in an interview with The Hindu

The fact that Karmakar could achieve such a remarkable feat even in the twilight year of her career is a testament to her exceptional talent. According to an article published in The Hindu, her coach has said that he will speak to her father and it remains to be seen if she will continue her sporting career. Dipa Karmakar's story goes beyond medals and accolades. With her never-say-die attitude, she inspires budding gymnasts across India, proving that dedication and perseverance can overcome all hurdles. This gold medal is a tangible proof of excellence not just for Indian gymnastics but for Indian sport as a whole.