mid-day editorial: Dipa's feat is a leap of faith for India

Gymnast Dipa Karmakar’s qualification for Rio 2016, the first Indian to do so since 1964 and first woman ever from the country to qualify for the quadrennial event, is a huge leap for Indian gymnastics.

Dipa’s feat must be lauded for two reasons — firstly, when her father, a wrestling coach, introduced her to the sport at the age of six, she had a huge fear of falling.

Secondly, and on the technical front, she was naturally flat-footed, which is a clear handicap in gymnastics. Currently, Dipa is known to be a phenomenon in the vault event that requires an athlete to sprint towards an apparatus and acrobatically jump over it, do multiple somersaults and execute a perfect landing. The sport is said to be life-threatening, as one wrong move can lead to a broken neck, snapped spine or worse still, death. Overcoming such major personal and technical glitches and excelling amidst danger, highlights the girl’s bravado.

Dipa always knew her time would come and her sheer determination and truckloads of sweat shed alongside veteran coach Bisbeshwar Nandi at the training hall in Agartala has borne fruit with this Rio opportunity.

The government has done well to appreciate her achievement by including her in the Target Olympic Scheme (TOPS) yesterday, which entitles her to funding of up to R30 lakh as she trains for the Rio Games (August 5-21) Her qualification through a test event in Rio will keep her in good stead for the Games, as she will be well versed with the conditions and facilities when she returns four months later. However, it would be unrealistic to expect the government’s ‘investment’ to yield quick returns in the form of a medal at these Games.

The ideal scenario for Dipa would be to soak in the atmosphere and experience at Rio and work even harder over the next few years to prepare for a medal-winning performance at Tokyo 2020. And throughout this period, it’s the continued government funding and support of a billion Indians that will aid the fearless Dipa in her giant leap of faith.

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