Dipa Karmakar: The flat footed gymnast

By Juliana Pasker

 

Dipa was born with flat feet – not a good physical sign for a gymnast.

She was born in Tripura, one of the poorest states in India. 

But what she lacked in facilities and how life turned out to be, she made up for in sheer determination and grit. Standing at just 4 feet 11 inches, the 23-year-old, pocket-sized gymnast is a powerhouse dynamo. 

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Dipa Karmakar, born 9 August 1993 is an artistic gymnast, who represented India at the 2016 Summer Olympics. She is the first bengali as well as Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics, and the first Indian gymnast to do so in 52 years. She attained 4th position in Women’s Vault Gymnastics event of Rio Olympics 2016 with an overall score of 15.066. She is recipient of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India.

Karmakar, hailing from Agartala in Tripura started practicing gymnastics when she was 6 years old and has been coached by Soma Nandi & Bisweshwar Nandi since. She was flat-footed, and that was the first thing her lifetime coach Biswaswar Nandi noticed when she came to train with him. If caught early, flat feet can be fixed by increasing the curve of the feet.

Flat feet are an inherent disadvantage for gymnasts. It affects their jumps and landings, and her coach and Dipa worked really hard to fix it.

Because she trained in Tripura, her training grounds would occasionally get flooded.

Add to it the difficulty in getting funds for training and maintaining top-notch health without any recognition whatsoever. It is worthwhile remembering that Dipa was almost unknown in India until she qualified for Olympics. 

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Karmakar is one of the only five women who have successfully landed the Produnova, which is regarded as the most difficult vault currently performed in women’s gymnastics. She also won a bronze medal at the Asian Gymnastics Championships and finished fifth at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, both firsts for our country.

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