Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar has already made India proud with her achievements — first, by qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics and becoming the only Indian woman in history to participate in the gymnastics event, and then, making it to the finals of the vault event in the games. What happens next is only to be experienced when it happens, but if she manages to clinch a medal, it will be nothing but sheer history and magnificence.
The 'vault of death' or the produnova has been Dipa's biggest weapon in her gymnastics career so far. She is one of the very few athletes in the world to perfect the vault, giving India plenty of reasons to feel proud.
The 23-year-old girl from Agartala will compete in the finals just ahead of India's Independence Day. And one thing is for sure, a billion hearts will be beating for Dipa on Sunday. To run up to the vault, do a handspring and complete two somersaults mid-air is not an easy feat, even by the looks of it, but Dipa has excelled the produnova vault with perfection.
Shrugging off the challenges, taking in the hardships and keeping the belief intact when everything looked faded around her, Dipa's story is one that deserves an entry in the book of inspirations. "Not nervous, but excited to give my best in the greatest podium of all" is how Dipa summed the experience after making to the vault finals in the 2016 Olympics.
The humble Dipa doesn't even complain about the food she gets in the Olympic Games Village as she says, "I don't have a problem taking in the Chinese food." It's obvious that she believes in making the most of the opportunities available to her, rather than complain about what could be.
Dipa once asked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to allow her to travel to Rio de Janeiro with her longtime physio Sajad Ahmad, but her request was simply refused and she was counter-questioned on why she needed a physio since she was the only gymnast travelling.
The 23-year-old also turned down SAI's financial aid of Rs. 30 lakh and an opportunity to train outside India, as she wanted to make a statement that training in India can also give you the much-needed glory.
She was turned down by the SAI early in her career but that didn't stop her. She started training with equipment made out of discarded scooter parts to land on hard surfaces. Her education was massively compromised but her persistence and dedication with gymnastics made her win a bronze at the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow where she performed the produnova vault to perfection.
It's been a long ride for the girl from Tripura and lest we forget, words of praise and salute also go to Dipa's coach Bisweswar Nandi for moulding and grooming a champion despite numerous odds and challenges. Back home, Dipa's father Dulal Karmakar, a weightlifting coach, too can't express his joy watching his daughter excel at the highest level.
"My daughter has worked so hard and it was on her insistence that we kept Nandi sir as her mentor. We all wanted a foreign coach for her but Dipa always relied on Bisweswar. Of course, we are very tensed as this is the finals but we can only pray for the best for her," said Dipa's dad to NDTV.
To sum it up with a question: Can Dipa Karmakar win a medal now? The only answer that comes to mind is she has exceeded expectations by a huge level. Medal or not, the best thing that can happen is to see her perform a safe vault and return home and bask in the glory of love India are waiting to embrace her with.
Catch Dipa Karmakar in the Rio 2016 Olympics vaults final:
Date - Aug. 14, 2016.
Time - 11:15 p.m. IST
Venue - Rio Olympic Arena
Participants - Simone Biles (USA), Hong Un-Jong (North Korea), Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland), Maria Paseka (Russia), Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan), Shallon Olsen (Canada), Wang Yan (China), Dipa Karmakar (India).
TV listings - Star Sports Network (India), BBC (UK), NBC Sports (USA)