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After Dipa Karmakar high at Rio Olympics, Indian gymnastics back to square one

Dipa Karmakar’s performance in Gymnastics in last year’s Rio Olympics was supposed to give the sport a real boost . A host of issues, however, including legal wrangles have meant that Indian Gymnastics is back to square one.

other sports Updated: Oct 10, 2017 19:56 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Dipa Karmakar,Rio Olympics,Indian gymnastics
Dipa Karmakar finished fourth in women’s vaulting event in 2016 Rio Olympics.(REUTERS)

At the Rio Olympic Games last year, Dipa Karmakar’s fourth-spot finish in the women’s vaulting event was expected to give a boost to the sport in the country.

A year down, wrangling between federation officials has harmed budding gymnasts. No national meet has been held in three years, a sign that gymnastics is back to square one.

India’s dismal show at the just-concluded 47th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Montreal is another pointer in this direction.

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India’s best hope Pranati Nayak, ranked 68th in Montreal out of 96 in women’s individual qualification, scored a mere 42.866 points. Aruna Reddy Budda finished 69th with 42.865 points.

The two-member men’s team too finished way down in individual all-round qualification. Yogeshwar Singh scored 73.365 points to finish 41st in a field of 59 while Siddarth Verma scored 69.497 points to end 53rd.

The top 24 made the cut for the final round with four reserves.

Legal battle

Since 2015, two factions of the Gymnastics Federation of India have been involved in a legal battle in the Punjab and Haryana High Court over recognition.

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The in-fighting between officials started before the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Then, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had constituted an ad-hoc panel with Gurdial Singh Bawa, a former chief coach, as head of the coaching staff.

Samir Deb, a former national-level coach from Tripura, said in-fighting between officials has ruined gymnastics. Since there are no sub-junior and junior national meets, fresh talent is not being spotted, he said. “To select the national team, trials are conducted by SAI, but there is no opportunity at present.”

Back to fitness

After missing the Montreal meet, which concluded on Saturday, Dipa Karmakar is focusing on the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

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After recovering from knee surgery, the Olympian has started training but gave Montreal a skip as it didn’t fit into her schedule. “I have started training but don’t want to rush back to competition,” she told Hindustan Times.

At the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Dipa won bronze in vaulting and became the first Indian woman to do so. In 2016, she became the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Rio Olympics since the 1964 Tokyo Games.

In April, she injured the right knee and was advised surgery. Dipa said her target was a podium finish in the Commonwealth Games scheduled in April. “The competition is six months away and I have enough time to polish my skills.”

First Published: Oct 10, 2017 18:36 IST