CHENNAI: The coronavirus pandemic has affected many athletes’ plans with the calendar getting disrupted. But for some, this period of lull has given time to heal and get back stronger. Gymnast Dipa Karmakar falls under the second category.
The surprise hiatus meant she could recover from her knee injury and hold on to her slim hopes of making a cut at the postponed Olympics next year.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist has been out of action since March last year when she aggravated her knee injury during the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup — a qualifying event for the Olympics — in Baku. Having been sidelined at a crucial time, her Olympic dreams suffered a blow in 2019.
The chances of her recovering on time and cementing a place at the Games would have been bleak had the quadrennial extravaganza been held this year.
With six of the eight gymnastics World Cups that acts as qualifying events for the Games having already been completed, Karmakar now pin hopes on the remaining two. The two World Cups are likely to begin next February or March.
According to her coach Bisweswar Nandi, finding her groove is the top priority at the moment. The 27-year-old is currently training at Netaji Subhash Regional Coaching Centre at Agartala.
“Dipa started training in the second week of August. We train once in the morning for five days a week. She has been showing good improvement,” said Nandi.
“In terms of fitness, she is not 100 per cent there yet. We are working on getting her back to how she was before the injury. It’s a gradual process. In one or two months, she will be completely fit and should be able to get back to her full rhythm,” added the Dronacharya Awardee.
Since finishing fourth at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Karmakar’s career has been hit with injuries. In 2017, she underwent surgery to treat her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
Though she made a comeback in 2018, she was forced to withdraw from the World Cup last year after aggravating her knee injury. With the pandemic situation postponing the Olympics, it has given her time to prepare. To make the cut for the Games, she has to win two gold medals or one silver and gold in the two qualifying events.
Though the chances remain slim, Nandi is hopeful that his ward will leave no stone unturned. “Injury is a part of gymnast’s life. She has recovered completely now. There are no international or national competitions this year. So that gives us time to prepare. I’m sure she will be make a strong comeback,” added the coach.