CHENNAI: As Dipa Karmakar stood beaming outside the Arena Olímpica do Rio where she had etched her name onto an entire country’s conscience just minutes prior, she had a rather bold statement to make. Fourth place was good enough for Rio, she said, but not for Tokyo. In 2020, only a medal would do.
It was a rather outlandish claim. But an entire country, yet to be released from the spell that she cast with her Produnova, was willing to believe her.
This was a girl who, through sheer will-power, had bridged the gap between a makeshift practice venue in Agartala and the best-equipped facilities in the Western world. If she believed she was going to win an Olympic medal, who was anyone to argue otherwise?
Nearly an year on, things haven’t been exactly going according to plan for Dipa and her coach Bisweswar Nandi. While both PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik have got back to their respective careers after their Rio highs, Dipa is yet to get back to her apparatus.She did not turn up in Bangkok to defend her bronze medal at the Asian Gymnastics Championships in May thanks to an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury. Now she is set to miss the World Championships in Montreal as well.
“She had a knee surgery on April 2,” Nandi told Express.
“Her rehabilitation is supposed to go through August and the championships is in September. She will only have a few weeks to prepare for the event.
I don’t know what she can do with those few weeks. So unless we feel she can do well, Dipa will not be participating in the World Championships.”
Nandi, though, denied that an year lost will have any bearing on her long-term goals. “Injuries happen to athletes all the time,” he said. “That is natural in sports. Even Cristiano Ronaldo has spent considerable time on the sidelines, yet he has returned to being one of the best in the world.
And gymnastics is one of the riskiest sports around, where it is impossible to predict what will happen to you. We have said we will try our best for a medal in Tokyo. That still stands.”
Her immediate targets are the twin events that will headline the Indian sports calendar in 2018 — April’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, and August’s Asian Games in Jakarta.
The CWG in particular will be close to her heart, for it was on this stage in Glasgow 2014, that a bronze-winning performance first marked her arrival.
“That is what we are working towards, to win medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games,” said Nandi.