Headline making gymnast Dipa Karmakar was on the verge of becoming the first Indian to qualify for the Olympics after putting up a steady show over four apparatus at the Test event in Rio – her final chance to make the cut for the Games in August.
The CWG bronze medallist who has consistently done well at the highest stage in her preferred apparatus – the vault, and needing to finish in Top 29, was 18th at the end of two sub-divisions out of four (with 40 more gymnasts remaining) at the time of going to press. Should she qualify, it will be an immense step taken forward by India, which has to date, never managed to qualify a gymnast to the Games.
Karmakar improved on her World Championship scores by a shade on the balance beam and uneven bars, and was steady on the floor, putting in a commanding performance on the vault to give herself a total of 52.698 over the four apparatus at the Olympic qualification Test event in Rio on Sunday.
The Tripura girl who specialises in Vault was aiming to become the first Indian to qualify for the Olympics in gymnastics. However, having failed to medal at the apparatus in the World Championships of 2015, she needed to prop up her performances all round in the remaining three apparatus to have a chance to make the cut.
“I am satisfied with her performance, and I hope she can qualify. I am told the top 29 girls can qualify, but it depends on a lot of team calculations, so we’ll only know once everyone’s finished,” coach Bisweshwar Nandi said.
International referee Deepak Kagra told PTI, “Dipa is 100 per cent assured of an Olympic berth with this 52.698 score. There are three subdivisions to go but she has already beaten gymnasts from three countries. So she has qualified.”
“This Test event has participants from 33 countries and since her score is above the participants of at least three countries, she will finish in the top 30 country-wise. That is enough for her to qualify for Rio Olympics,” he said. However, coach Bisweswar Nandi said, a final confirmation could only be got once all the gymnasts had had their run.
The 22-year-old Karmakar would average 14.799 on the vault – though only the best of the two scores were considered. On her Produnova, for a difficulty of 7, she was marked 8.066, to score 15.066 – the score that was eventually considered. Her second Tsukahara (Difficulty of 6.0) yielded 8.533 from the judges to tally 14.533.
It was fractionally less than her Worlds score of 15.100, which gave her fifth place but no qualification.
In her floor work, Karmakar’s 5.20 routine fetched her 7.366 for a total of 12.566 – which was again marginally better than what she scored at Glasgow.
There was significant improvement on the uneven bars, which she had botched at the Worlds last October – scoring 11.700 (D 4.500 + E 7.200) this time, though it was only in relative terms, given she’d fumbled miserably to tally 10.000 six months ago.
It was a decent improvement on the beam though – a 13.366, with 7.966 for executing the rotation worth difficulty of 5.400. It was on the beam that Karmakar had sloppily fallen at Glasgow, but to her credit, she earned no penalties at Rio test event, the same venue where Olympics will be held in August.