India’s Schedule at Rio Olympics today on Day 5 of the competitions. All times IST:…
With no more tears left to shed, a distraught Dipa Karmakar now wants to get back into training so she can start working towards leaving a lasting legacy in gymnastics.
While the memory of losing an Olympic medal by just 0.15 of a point in Sunday’s vault final continues to haunt her, the 23-year-old knows what she achieved in Rio could be the start of something big for Indian gymnastics.
“I want to inspire the next generation so that in 10 to 15 years, India can send a full gymnastics team to an Olympics and not just one athlete,” Karmakar told Reuters in an interview in her native Bengali in the athletes’ village before heading home to India on Thursday.
“(Five-times Olympic champion) Nellie Kim told me that in 10 years’ time, Indian gymnastics will be at the same level as the Chinese team.”
If that happens, it will be because of the barriers Karmakar and her coach Bishweshwar Nandi have broken down over the past decade.
When the duo embarked on their dream to make Karmakar a world-class gymnast, they had no funding, no equipment and no guidance. All they had was a determination to succeed and a brainwave to build makeshift apparatus from a pile of crash mats and discarded parts of a second-hand scooter.
Such hardships will be totally alien to the three gymnasts who finished ahead of Karmakar in Rio – Simone Biles, Maria Paseka and Giulia Steingruber – but it is thanks to the Indian trailblazer that future generations will have an easier start to their careers.
“Up until three months ago I was using out-of-date equipment. Even now we still do not have the Olympic standard balance beam and uneven bars in India,” explained Karmakar, who was one of only two competitors in Rio to attempt the high-risk Produnova vault.
“But I am now hopeful those will be imported into India.”