Dipa Karmakar gets last chance to qualify for Rio Olympics

With a sinking realisation Dipa Karmakar had noted that even her best effort on the vaulting table at gymnastics’ World Championship wasn’t enough to clinch her a berth at the Olympics. No other Indian can claim to have finished 5th in an apparatus final at gymnastics’ toughest global competitive event — the Tripura girl had notched 14.683 at Glasgow in October last year. But missing the podium in her favourite event had meant missing the Olympic qualification berth. Her all around scores (an aggregate of all four apparatus – Floor Exercise, Balance Beam, Uneven Bars apart from Vault) had been poor, and the 22-year-old knew that her strong showing in Vault wouldn’t suffice if she had to qualify for gymnastics’ biggest stage — the Olympics.
Karmakar gets a second chance when she travels to the Games host city Rio on April 12 for gymnastics’ Test event which also serves as the final qualifying meet for the Olympics. She was second reserve in making the cut for the Test event, but was informed mid-March that she had sneaked into the shortlist of 40-odd gymnasts who’ll look to qualify for Rio.
Karmakar, a Commonwealth Games and Asiad medallist – and a proven performer on two of the most difficult vaults performed in the world currently — had spent time from November to March in her home state Tripura — where the limited facilities (no foam pit to practice the tough vaults) had compelled her to focus on the other apparatus. “My execution at the Worlds on other apparatus was real bad. I even slipped off the Balance Beam. This time I’ve trained to prevent all those falls,” she said, after a training session at the IG stadium.
As soon as the confirmation of her upgrade from the reserve list had reached India, Karmakar along with coach Bisweshwar Nani had travelled to Delhi where SAI put together a camp for India’s best gymnast – including providing her with a pair of physios and a psychologist and a masseur. “I’ve had three sessions with the psychologist and it’s increased my morale,” she said.
Target top-24
However, her techniques needed some fundamental strengthening across the four apparatus of the all around if she fancied her chances of qualifying for the Olympics. “This time we’re looking for an overall position, and not focussing on medalling in the vault alone. At the Worlds we did that, but her performance on the other three suffered and she almost missed on being called to the Test event. Now that she’s earned the chance, we want her to qualify,” Nandi stressed. She will be assured of qualification should she finish in the Top 24 among the 40-odd gymnasts who will be in Rio, four months before the Olympics.
Fortifying her technique on other apparatus, Dipa has brought about a few changes, tweaking the difficulty levels, and is gunning for the safe and assured routines and greater consistency, rather than the high-risk skill that her speciality on the Vault involves.
While she will continue on the Tsukahara and Produnova on the vaulting leaps, Karmakar is planning to change her dismount on the Uneven Bars. While her former landing was a pike body double somersault, Dipa’s raised it a notch to the ‘D’ class dismount: a double straight body back salto that pegs the difficulty at a higher 4.7.
While her Balance Beam routine remains unchanged from the World Championships, her floor work over 90 seconds will see her reduce the difficulty by 0.1 as she chases steady consistency. The erstwhile ‘double stretch body back salto’ is now a single stretch body with 900 degree turn (two-and-a-half twists) on her first diagonal line. While the Difficulty score’s down a tad to 5.20, Dipa can’t stress enough on how crucial ‘Execution’, the key element of scoring, will be this time.
“I am 90 per cent certain I’ll be able to qualify, but what’s for sure is that my basics of gymnastics, all that I’ve learnt on every apparatus will be tested at Rio. It won’t be just one aspect – the vault. It’ll be a test of my all round capability,” she says. The Indian gymnast who’s known the world over as a risk taking vaulter, given to outrageous leaps that even top gymnasts eschew while chasing consistency, is hoping she can ace what is ‘steady and normal’ too.
– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/sport-others/in-rio-dipa-karmakar-gets-last-chance-to-qualify-for-rio-olympics/

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