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Dipa Karmakar says return to gymnastics training was like learning to walk again

Dipa Karmakar is treading carefully as she eyes a gymnastics comeback at the Asian Games 2018 after undergoing knee surgery.

other sports Updated: May 20, 2018 10:13 IST
Dipa Karmakar,Asian Games 2018,gymnastics
Dipa Karmakar is treading carefully as she eyes a gymnastics comeback at the Asian Games 2018 after undergoing knee surgery. (PTI)

Never before had Dipa Karmakar taken an almost year-long break from gymnastics. No wonder than that Dipa felt like a beginner when she returned to training in March following knee surgery in April 2017.

“It was as if I was learning to walk again with someone holding my hand. The only thing that speeded up the process of adjusting to the routine was the experience of all these years,” said Dipa over the phone from Agartala on Friday.

India’s top gymnast is, therefore, treading carefully in her attempt to return to competition in the Asian Games 2018 that begins in Jakarta on August 18.

“She now does two hours of conditioning in the morning and four hours of apparatus work in the evening. Let’s say, she is training at 80% intensity,” Dipa’s coach Bishweshwar Nandi said.

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Dipa, who finished fourth in the women’s vault at the Rio Games; the best by an Indian in gymnastics in Olympics, and her coach are now waiting for the green light from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to head to New Delhi for the preparatory camp that will run till the Jakarta Games.

GS Bawa, former national coach and head of the ad-hoc panel nominated by SAI, said the camp would start soon. It will be held under the supervision of SAI’s ad-hoc panel because the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) was de-recognised by the government in 2012. There are two factions of the GFI now with one recognised by the sport’s world governing body FIG and another by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

“It helps in a lot of ways if the letter announcing the start of the camp comes but it is getting late so even if it doesn’t, we will leave for Delhi in the next three-four days,” said Dipa.

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Nandi said Dipa isn’t doing much work on the vaulting table since Agartala doesn’t have a foam pit. “That will start in New Delhi,” Nandi said.

Quizzed on her chances in the Asian Games, Dipa, who hasn’t competed since the Olympics, said she would try her best after “such a long gap.”

“We need to remember that there will be competitions beyond the Asian Games. Having said that, we would obviously aim for a good finish but the Games are going to be tough with Japan, the Koreas and China likely to put up a strong challenge,” said Nandi.

Her knee is 90% okay, said Nandi. If Dipa has recovered completely, she will do well in Jakarta, said Bawa.

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They started training in Agartala because Nandi said Dipa needed to be eased into her regimen. Once the camp starts in Delhi, Nandi said he would decide whether Dipa needs to go overseas.

“Should we think it is necessary, I would like to take her to any country that was part of the Soviet Union, preferably for four weeks in the lead-up to Jakarta. But that is a process that involves working out a budget and then getting necessary approvals, meaning it would take time. So, we may even continue training in Delhi till the Games,” he said.

First Published: May 20, 2018 10:08 IST