[Proud day] Dipa Karmakar first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics

Eight reasons why she is our best shot at the showpiece quadrennial event.

 |  4-minute read |   18-04-2016
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Dipa Karmakar. Till yesterday, not many would have heard of this 22-year-old girl from the country's Northeast. But they certainly do now. Dipa has emerged as the new star in India's sporting universe. The first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. India's very own Nadia Comaneci (legendary Romanian gymnast).

On Monday (April 18), Dipa notched up a total score of 52.698 in the Olympic qualifying event to book her berth for the Rio de Janeiro games starting in August. She qualified for the artistic gymnastics category.

Here are a few facts on India's Olympic hope that you must know:

1. Apart from being the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, she is also the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the quadrennial event in 52 long years. Since independence, 11 Indian gymnasts - all of them males - had participated in the Olympics (two in 1952, three in 1956 and six in 1964).

2. She became the first Indian woman gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games when she won bronze at Glasgow in 2014.

3. Since 2007, Dipa has won 77 medals, including 67 golds, in state, national and international events.

4. She was also the first Indian to progress to the finals of the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships with a tally of 14.900. She finished fifth in the finals with a tally of 14.863.

dipa_041816065349.jpg Can Dipa now be India's next big woman sports star? 

5. Dipa started practising gymnastics at the age of 6, and what makes her achievements particularly commendable is the fact that she had flat feet when she first enrolled into gymnastics.

6. She narrowly missed a medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, where she finished fourth with a tally of 14.200.

7. She has been listed as the 79th gymnast among individual qualifiers in women's artistic gymnastics to have booked a place for the Rio games.

8. But perhaps the shiniest jewel in her crown is that she is among the five gymnasts who have ever completed a "Prudonova" - perhaps THE hardest exercise in the sport, involving a front handspring and two front somersaults, and the proverbial final frontier for proving your gymnastic excellence. Make no mistake, it severely endangers a gymnast's life and limb.

But Dipa not only completed the vault, she became the highest scorer on a Produnova in the world (15.100, with 7.000 for difficulty, 8.100 for execution, 0.1 as penalty).

Only two of her contemporaries, Yamilet Pena of Dominican Republic and Fadwa Mahmoud of Egypt, have ever attempted the Produnova and neither has a score anywhere close to that of Dipa.

This is perhaps the biggest reason the country is looking up to her for bringing home from the showpiece event an individual medal which has been few and far between.

The stage is set. Can Dipa now be India's next big woman sports star after Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza? An Olympic medal is sure to do it for her.

Indian sports fans were expectedly ecstatic and took to Twitter to congratulate the young gymnast on her achievement. Here is a collection of tweets:

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