India’s trailblazing gymnast Dipa Karmakar will receive loads of blessings and best wishes from her family, coaches and juniors on her 23rd birthday on Tuesday.
More than 35,000 kilometres away from her hometown Agartala, Karmakar on Sunday made history by becoming the first Indian to reach the finals of the individual vaults at the Rio Olympics.
“We will badly miss her on her birthday. During her absence, we do not want to celebrate her birthday. We will pray for her success in the temples tomorrow. That will be her birthday gift from our side. I will arrange for a grand party to celebrate her success once she arrives,” her father Dulal Karmakar said.
Her mother Gouri Karmakar said Karmakar’s dedication and her coach Bishweswar Nandi’s attention has made all the difference.
“I am happy that Dipa qualified the vault final and hope she will again make the state feel proud in the final round. Dipa is very dedicated to her sports and above all, her coach Bisweswar babu dedicated his attention to her all the time,” she said.
The coaches, students and junior players of government-run Tripura Sports School, where Karmakar practised to take part in the Olympics, expressed their best wishes on her birthday and wished her all the best for the August 14 finals.
All the 22 junior gymnasts, including 11 boys and 11 girls, at the Sports School said she has made them proud and added that they want to become the next ‘Dipa Karmakar’.
“Dipa di has made us feel proud. We all were tensed last night about her while watching TV in the hostel. We wish her all the best for the finals,” Apurba Lodh, a junior gymnast of the school, said.
Karmakar’s first coach Soma Nandi is elated about her entry in the vaults final round and said that Vivekananda Vyamagar, where she took her first coaching, would organise a programme to felicitate her after she returns home.
Daughter of a weightlifting coach in Agartala and youngest of two sisters, Karmakar started gymnastics at the age of three under Soma, a SAI coach.
“As her first coach, I am very proud of her. She learnt the ABC of gymnastics under my training at Vivekananda Vyamagar. Now, she is in Rio Olympics. I have no words for her. As of now, there is no plan from the club authority to celebrate her birthday, but hopefully, a programme will be organised as she arrives here,” Soma, who is the wife of her present coach, said.
Goutam Banik, a gymnast coach at Tripura Sports School, said that Karmakar has made a mark in gymnastics and it is very praiseworthy. “Despite minimal sports infrastructures in the state, she has acclaimed a name in the country surpassing competitors of other big states,” Banik said.
“As she is not here, we are not at all prepared for any programme for her birthday. But, we will organise a felicitation programme once she returns here,” he added.
Fellow Arjuna awardee Montu Debnath said that Karmakar has honoured Tripura with her performance.
“Dipa has entered into the international arena breaking all stereotypes in this state... I express my heartiest congratulations to Dipa who has made the state proud through her debut in the Olympics,” he said.
Debnath said that he and a few other sportspeople would visit Karmakar’s house on Tuesday to convey their wishes to her parents.
Karmakar has been put under “house arrest” at the Olympic Games Village by her coach Nandi as she gears up to script history in the vault finals on August 14.
Fourteen years of single-minded practice and planning helped Karmakar put her home state Tripura on the international sporting map. She won the vault bronze at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
She surmounted hurdles with hard work, winning individual events at the National Games five consecutive times between 2010 and 2014, including five gold medals at the Ranchi edition in 2011 at 17.