Dipa Karmakar
Targeting the leap to glory in Rio Olympics 2016. Pictured: India's Dipa Karmakar reacts after a successful vault during the women's gymnastics vault apparatus final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, July 31, 2014Reuters

Dipa Karmakar, 22, became the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in April earlier this year and that made her a national hero instantly.

The Tripura girl had achieved a lot of records previously, which included becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal in gymnastics in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as well as becoming the first Indian to qualify for the final stage of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2015. However, the pleasure of having qualified for the Olympics was something way different.

Now that the job has been done, all eyes will be on Dipa as she gets set to compete in the Rio Olympics alongside several artistic gymnasts from around the world. The Produnova vault is one of her key weapons and it will be interesting to find out if she can strike gold with the jump she does the best in the grandest stage of them all.

"I was pretty excited knowing that I had qualified for Rio. Now I have more responsibilities," said Dipa in an exclusive interview to the Times of India. "It has done my confidence a world of good since now I know I can do well there. Keeping that in mind, I've been practising for three months. My first target is to reach the final," she added.

"My preparations are faring nicely. Whatever schedule I have been assigned, I'm taking that load well."

Dipa's training routine ahead of Rio Olympics 2016 includes training for eight hours every day of the week split between a morning and an evening session. It is only on Wednesdays and Thursdays that she skips her evening session.

She is undergoing some gruelling training now not only to give India her first Olympic medal in the sport of gymnastics but also to make her native state Tripura get the much-needed recognition in the sporting map of the country.

"Agartala is a small town and not many are aware about it. Like I said, I am hoping I will be able to make my city proud," the 22-year-old continued. "Not many sportsmen or athletes emerge from my state of Tripura and I want to change that."

"Gymnastics is coming of age in the country and it has finally started getting attention which is a huge step ahead. Also, many youngsters now want to take up gymnastics and I want to give them that reason," she added with confidence.

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