Bisweshwar Nandi had trained Dipa Karmakar to leap herself into mid-air somersaults while teaching her one of the boldest routines in gymnastics. But it was going to take specialised convincing to get her to believe again that she could pull off a routine — not as dangerous as the earlier one — after recovering from her knee surgery.
Bronze medal 🥉in vault event
to finish my campaign at 2018 Cottibus World Cup. It was overwhelming to compete against some of the best athletes in the world!! Aaj ye bronze bhi gold lag raha hai! 😇😇 pic.twitter.com/WOZS3lSRZM
— Dipa Karmakar (@DipaKarmakar) 24 November 2018
The wariness to push herself had morphed into debilitating pressure in her mind, and Nandi packed her off to SAI psychologist Bhavna Chouhan to clear off the cobwebs of doubt that besieged India’s premier gymnast. Eighteen days of intense training and patching back her mind together yielded a confidence—boosting bronze medal at the FIG Individual apparatus World Cup in Germany on Saturday. Managing an average of 14.316 on her two vaults at the Lausitz Arena, Karmakar was 0.412 off the gold medallist Rebecca Andrade from Brazil, who finished with 14.728.
“I was very demotivated after the Asian Games. Not making the finals there shook me to the core. I’d started to think I won’t be able to get good scores on the vault again. But the psychologist told me that the junoon was within me, and it never went away. Basically, it was things that motivators say, but I needed to hear it being said,” she told The Sunday Express after her second World Cup medal.
The Tripura woman had won a gold at the lower-rung Turkish World Cup six months ago, but a minor sprain had turned her Asian Games return into a nightmare, after she came third behind two other Indians and couldn’t make the vault finals.
That, she has started medalling without gunning for the high-yield, high-risk Produnova, also means that she is putting herself into contention, though the path with two vaults of D-scores 5.4 (front somersault – 360) and 5.6 (Tsukahara – 720) mean Karmakar is proving that her foundational core on the apparatus is strong and doesn’t lack in depth when weaned away from the Produnova that’s still a step too far for the stitched up knee.
“It’s great when I win with no one expecting. I feel like before,” she said, sounding happier to have regained her enthusiasm from the dark times. There is still some work needing to be done. “Her leg is bending on the front-360, and the leg work is not perfect on the Tsukahara also. She just needs more repetition and long-term practice, and her execution scores can shoot up,” Nandi said, after she scored 8.833 and 8.800 respectively. It’s important to note that the Produnova was giving her a straight 7, but has since been downgraded in the new code of points, with judges also getting stricter on sticking less sloppier landings.
On a day when Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal (at Syed Modi Lucknow) showed that Indian sportswomen are in it for the long haul, Karmakar believed that she was back on track now. “It’s been tough, and here too the competition wasn’t minor. The American junior world champion and apparatus specialists were here. So I feel good to be back and closer to the top level,” she stressed.
The Brazilian Andrade notched 9.466 and 9.491 on her two vaults scored at 5.4 and 5.2, and that is the range of consistency that Karmakar will need to target if she aims to repeat her finals qualification from Rio. Jade Carey of USA won silver.
Chouhan’s contribution had been crucial to push her in training as well. “She had fear in her heart. Because doctors and physios kept telling me she was absolutely alright, but she was scared of taking training load. But in the last 18 days after she spoke to the psychologist a lot, so she started trusting the hard loads,” Nandi added.
There are 7 more World Cups with the best of 4 considered.
Another development that the coach-athlete duo are looking forward to is the arrival of Spieth equipment at the IG Stadium. Currently, Indians are training on the French-make Gymnova, but SAI has sanctioned procurement of the German equipment. “They’ve been of huge help. We needed a vaulting table, a balance beam, a big board, a revolving set and a pommel horse. Once those arrive, we’ll start planning towards Tokyo,” Nandi said.