This is the inspiring tale of Deepa Karmakar who was born with flat- feet, a trait which is considered disadvantageous for gymnasts. But still, she created history by performing the life-threatening stunt- Produnova Vault at the Rio Olympics, a stunt which till date has been performed by only five women worldwide.
Dipa Karmakar has proved that nothing can stop you if you are determined. She struggled against her physical disability to come up on top as the Olympic medal winner in the Rio Olympics in 2016. Standing at just 4 feet 11 inches, she also became the first female Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after 52 years.
Resolution of a 7-year-old girl
Born in Tripura, Deepa Karmakar was flat footed- not good physical sign for a gymnast as it affects their jumps and landings. But still, she started her training as gymnastics at the tender age of six devoting countless hours of practice. Under the mentor-ship of Bisweshwar Nandi, she proceeded for further training at the Netaji Subhash Regional Coaching Centre (NSRCC), Agartala. But unfortunately, her further training was ruthlessly blocked by SAI (Sports Authority of India) doctor because that little girl did not have arched feet. All she had was dedication and willpower. Then her coach Bishweshwar Nandi took her to the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala for some special exercises that could develop the arch in Deepa’s feet.
Strived to survive in difficulties
- A small town girl Deepa did not even have proper apparatus in her state’s gymnastics hall to practice. She never had a vaulting table to practice; all she had was a stack of gym mattresses landing on which can leave you with a broken spine or any other fatal physical injury. But that didn’t deter Deepa from her practice; she only focused on her lessons.
- As she trained in Tripura, her training grounds would seldom get flooded. She had to face many difficulties in getting funds for training and maintaining top-notch health.
- Concentrating on her training, she did not even complain about the lack of training facilities or financial support from the Sports Ministry. She believed only in herself and her coach. And by keeping this attitude, she has come so far.
Dedication and passion for the goal
Deepa put in for two-and-a-half years of rigorous training every day for 8 or more hours, if required. Her regime started at 9 AM till 12.30PM and then again from 5 PM till 8.30PM. She worked really hard to increase the curve of the feet “That was the hardest part to fix for Deepa, we had to work very, very hard when she was a little kid to get the curve in her feet”, Deepa’s only coach, Bishweshwar Nandi said. She even used to practice a single vault for 1,000 repetitions in just 3 months. It was here that the talented girl learnt and practised the demanding Produnova vault, the deadliest stunt which if performed wrongly can leave you disabled for your entire life or can even kill you.
Deepa also used to attend only four classes in her school and then continue with her practice. She followed a very strict diet strictly adhering to her regimen. With regard to Deepa’s dedication, her only Coach Bishweshwar Nandi says, “I helped her develop her sharpness. After a few years of vigorous exercise, her honesty, discipline and determination brought laurels in the arena.” They did not come without complete devotion and determination” He also added, “Deepa has no friends. Not even a boyfriend. Her boyfriend is the gymnastic apparatus!” She had only her coach and her own self to do all the hard work. It is only that passion which helps her to qualify for the Olympics and recognize her dream.
Role of Deepa’s lifetime coach
Bishweshwar Nandi has always been extremely strict with Deepa towards her training. Deepa herself credits all her success to her coach and his deep dedication to grooming her to become the best in the country. “I still do cry sometimes when sir scolds me, but I know it is for my own good”, she said.
Deepa’s career achievements
In 2007, she won the Junior National Championships for the first time. At 2014 Commonwealth Games, she achieved the bronze in the vaulting horse finals in which she attempted the Produnova. An Arjuna recipient award in 2015, Deepa also attained the 4th position in the Women’s Vault Gymnastics event at the Rio Olympics 2016. She is only the fifth person in history to land the Produnova vault. Simply wow!