Dipa Karmakar, who is all of 22 years old, has made her name as the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. With a score of 52.698 points, she vaulted her way through the Olympic Test that is currently under way in Rio, in preparation for the upcoming Olympics in August 2016.
Born and brought up in Agartala, Tripura, she has been receiving training in gymnastics since she was six years old. Her father, a weight-lifting coach with the Sports Authority of India, had pushed Karmakar into gymnastics, even though she had a fear of falling. However, she overcame the fear when she began coaching with B.S. Nandi and Kaplana Debnath in Agartala.
A master performer, Karmakar has been making and breaking records ever since she stepped into the national level competition circuit in 2007.
Her first win, on a national level, was at the Jalpaiguri Junior National Championships in 2007. At 14, her heart was set on making her way into the international circuit.
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During the National Games in 2011, she represented Tripura and won five golds. Three years of hard work and dedicated training later, she participated in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow. Her fantastic performance at the Women’s Vault Finals earned her a bronze medal, making her the first Indian woman gymnast to get any medal at the Commonwealth Games. She was also the second Indian to win medals, four years after gymnast Ashish Kumar won two medals. In total, she has about 77 medals from state, national and international championships.
Karmakar is also one of the very few female gymnasts to achieve a high score on a Produnova Vault, 15.100.
In this particularly tricky vault, the gymnast has to run full tilt towards the springboard, and while in the air after jumping, has to swing both legs during twin somersaults, followed by a frontal landing.
She won a bronze for the Artistic Gymnastics Asian Championships in 2015. The same year, at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, she finished in the fifth place, and was the first Indian woman gymnast to make it to the finals.
International referee Deepak Kagra told PTI, “Dipa is 100 per cent assured of an Olympic berth with this 52.698 score. There are three subdivisions to go but she has already beaten gymnasts from three countries. So she has qualified.”