Dipa Karmakar stopped hearts around the world as she flew in the finals of the vault at the Olympics. Fourth position might be a curse across the rest of the contingent, but this was India’s most stupendous international achievement.
Sticking her best landing on the Tsukahara routine, keeping compact her feet, she would start with a 14.866. Then, seamlessly, she would pull off the Produnova — the low landing causing some anxiety before she would achieve a 15.266. This would take her to 15.066, and second position, putting her into contention for a historic medal.
It was nerveless execution by the brave Indian and there was little to fault given her three-month preparation for the entire routine.
With Simone Biles left, Dipa was third. The stunning Cheng got the American 15.900, and the next gave her the gold. In turn, it pushed Dipa to the fourth position.
Biles scooped her third gold medal with this win. World champion Maria Paseka of Russia came second with a score of 15.966 from her two vaults, while Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber, an all-rounder and vault specialist, pipped Dipa by 0.15 of a point to take bronze.
Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, bidding to become the oldest ever gymnast to win an Olympic medal at the age of 41, finished seventh out of the eight finalists after over-rotating on her promised Produnova. She ended with 14.933 after an unintended somersault in landing. She was 7.933 on execution, highlighting just how tough the landings tend to be.
North Korean Un Jong Hong had started with a botched second vault, but ended up with 14.900, pointing to average high scores in vault.
Canadian Shallon Olsen would hit 14.816 next, while Dipa warmed up on the sidelines.
Chinese Yuan Wang would nail the Tsukahara, for 14.866 — for the D score of 6.
But if this was uncharted territory for India, pathbreaker Dipa had forged a path. A bright blue leotard, but no longer a speck in the ocean of gymnastics.