It was at the age of five, that Dipa Karmakar, began her training as a gymnast. At an age where most children are deciding what they want to add to their play kit, Karmakar started her advanced training under Coach Bishweshwar Nandi at the Netaji Subhash Regional Coaching Centre (NSRCC), Agartala. After years of training, she won her first junior Nationals in Jalpaiguri and the rest is history.
She comes from a regular family in Tripura. “My father used to ride for six kilometres every single day to take me to my training center. I start my day with breakfast at 6am, and head to my training which begins at 8:30am. I then train on the gymnastics floor till 11am. After the rigours 3.5 hours training, I break for lunch and rest a little and get back to training at 4pm and then call it a day 8pm sharp. However, two weeks before any competition I usually add an extra hour of practice in the morning and in the evening,” says Karmakar.
“To be honest, it requires, a lot of training and dedication to be a field like this. I’m blessed with a coach like Nandi Sir, and of course, my parents, who help me keep going. Whether it’s preparing for the Common Wealth games, Asian Gymnastics Championships or the Olympics, a few weeks before the competition, the pressure adds on, the training gets intense, there’s a hard-core exercise routine and the structured diet cannot be skipped; but what keeps me going (apart from my coach and parents) is the want to do more, something bigger and better for my country. Each day is a step forward to that goal,” she adds. As we continued to speak to her, there’s an unmatchable energy, ambition and vision to strive for greatness that we saw in her.
Two of her biggest achievements (among many others) remain winning a bronze for our country in the Glasgow Common Wealth Games in 2014 and also representing India in the 2016 Rio de Janerio, Olympics and becoming the first Indian female gymnast to compete in the Olympics. She stood forth with an overall score of 15.066. While these are facts, Dipa goes onto tell us that she trained for the Common Wealth Games in Tripura and it was extremely hard, for, the infrastructure did not support athletes for bigger games like this. Also, when she initially started training, there were massive problems because the ground would get flooded during the rains. However, since the Rio Olympics, a government gym is being constructed in Tripura and there’s a lot of support from the SAI (Sports Authority of India) as well.
“In order to qualify for major events like the Olympics, an athlete has to undergo tremendous hardships and has to make huge sacrifices on a daily basis. One not only has to prepare for it physically before a big event, but also mentally. However, the feeling to be up there, representing your country, having millions of people cheer for you is a feeling that makes all of these worth it,” says Dipa. The pride in her eyes, combined with want for more, is something that we were lucky to witness whilst speaking to her.
Two other achievements Karmkar stands extremely proud of is to be the only woman to master the Produnova Vault, also called the ‘Vault of Death’ and also winning the Padma Shri in 2017 by the then President Pranab Mukherjee for all her contribution.
“I’m not sure if this is a tip to budding athletes, but all I can say is, each day is a step closer to being a better version of you, and thus, your skill. You have to be determined, ready to fall (quite literally and figuratively) and bounce back even hard. I work extremely hard to take a step towards my goals and make our country proud. India, are you ready? Because I am only warming up, just yet,” says Karmakar.
Dipa Karmakar is truly a testimony of greatness and we have no doubt in all that she is set to achieve. And with or without that, we are proud of her.
Here’s hoping this story helps us recreate a lot more Dipa Karmakar’s in the generation to come.
Find her at: Instagram