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Tripura gymnast India’s pride

- Agartala girl’s bronze worth its weight in gold
India’s Dipa Karmakar after winning the bronze medal in women’s vault event in artistic gymnastics in Glasgow on Thursday.

Agartala, Aug. 1: Tripura girl Dipa Karmakar has brought home international honour with her triumph at the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow.

Dipa, 21, became the first Indian woman and the second person from the country to clinch a Commonwealth Games medal in artistic gymnastics when she won the women’s vault bronze yesterday.

Dipa is a five-time national overall individual champion for five consecutive times between 2010-2014, with five medals at each meet.

“The Centre was not keen to send a gymnastics squad to Glasgow. Finally the Indian Olympic Association prevailed upon the government to send the squad. Dipa has now justified the decision and the trust reposed in her by the association,” said an elated Dulal Karmakar, her father and weightlifting coach of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), posted at Agartala.

Her mother, Gouri Karmakar, a homemaker, is proud of her daughter’s achievements and showed off the string of medals Dipa had won in various national championships.

“We expected her to win a medal in the Commonwealth Games, Delhi, in 2010 but luck eluded her. Dipa told me that had she pulled off better jumps in the first two attempts she could have won the gold but we have no regrets as she had fulfilled her dream of winning an international medal,” her mother said.

Dipa, a gymnastics coach in the sports department of Tripura, was keen on sports since childhood when she would play at her ancestral home in the Abhaynagar area of Agartala.

Dipa performs during the women’s vault final. AP and Reuters pictures

But she opted for gymnastics once she visited the Netaji Subhas Regional Coaching Centre (NSRCC) in Class VI and there was no looking back.

With her father, Dipa was a regular visitor to the regional coaching centre for practice and she picked up the nuances of gymnastics fast and accurately.

“She has been guided and personally coached by eminent national-level gymnast Bishweshawar Nandi who was also a national champion for many years at the senior level,” said her father.

“Dipa’s ambition is to win the prestigious Arjuna award and the bronze in the CWG, Glasgow, may help her fulfil her ambition,” he added.

Tripura sports minister Shahid Chowdhury was also elated at her success.

“We are really proud of her. Winning a gymnastics medal in an international meet is a great achievement. I hope she will do better in the Asiad and in the Olympics two years away,” he said.

He said the state government might announce a special award for the gymnast.

Terming Karmakar’s feat an “eye-opener”, Assam Gymnastics Association secretary H.K.M. Rahman said, “Dipa’s feat should encourage gymnasts in the Northeast to take up the sport in right earnest. Tripura has had the right culture and coaches for gymnastics. Dipa’s coach B.S. Nandi has been a class act in the past, having performed at the national and international levels.”

The state had produced a string of gymnasts at the junior and senior levels who excelled in national championships.

Two of the state’s leading gymnasts, Mantu Debnath and Kalpana Debnath, had won the prestigious Arjuna award but none of them could win a medal at international gymnastic events, despite being national individual champions for many years during their active career.