Agartala: The northeastern state of Tripura is waiting with bated breath for its daughter Dipa Karmakar to appear in the gymnastics vault final of the Rio Olympics on Sunday.
Dipa’s family, specially her father Dulal Kamakar, mother Gauri Devi and elder sister Puja are performing special prayers for her victory.
“We have no tension, but we are fanatically waiting to watch Dipa’s performance in the television. Not only are we, our relatives and neighbours equally enthusiastic and tensed for Dipa,” Dulal Karmakar, a weightlifting coach with the Sports Authority of India, told IANS.
Some local clubs and social activists are organising ‘yagnas’ (special mega puja) for Dipa’s success.
“We are organising a big yagna here to pray to almighty so that Dipa wins a medal for the country. If she wins a medal, the entire country would be grateful to her forever,” said social activist Sushanta Chowdhury.
Besides, Dipa is the first Indian gymnast to make the cut for the Olympics in 52 years.
The last time Indians participated in gymnastics at the Olympics was way back in 1964, but at that time, there was no qualification system in place. Six men competed at the 1964 Games in Tokyo in the artistic individual all-around category.
Till date, 11 Indian men gymnasts have competed in the Olympics — two in 1952, three in 1956 and six in 1964.
A large posse of mediapersons, from both India and abroad, have started arriving in Agartala to relay Dipa’s fascinating journey to the world.
Dipa’s elder sister Puja Karmakar said: “She is not only my younger sister, we are close friends too. She was keen on sports since childhood while playing at our ancestral home at Abhaynagar (on the outskirts of Agartala). She was inquisitive about the technical and all other nitty gritties of sports.”
“But she chose gymnastics once she visited the (government-run) Netaji Subhas Regional Coaching Centre here when she was studying in Class 6, and there was no looking back after that,” said Puja, a yoga activist.
“We would all spend a sleepless night on Sunday to watch Dipa’s great feat,” Puja told IANS.
Tripura Sports Minister Sahid Chowdhury, himself a former sportsman, said Dipa’s success in gymnastics has made the people of Tripura and all Indians proud.
“From the core of our heart, we wish her good health and victory in the final event on Sunday. Not only people of Tripura, entire India is very positive that Dipa would get a medal and script another history,” an optimistic Chowdhury told IANS.
Tripura gymnast and Arjuna awardee, Mantu Debnath, a close family friend of the Karmakars, told IANS : “Tripura has young men and women who have enormous skills in gymnastics and they would be able to showcase their performance if they get appropriate support and encouragement.”
Dipa’s school teacher Minati Debnath recalled that Dipa started practising gymnastics when she was just six years old.
“Dipa first won the gold medal in the North East Sports Festival in 2002 when she was nine years old.”
“She was a lovable girl and all teachers and students were affectionate to her,” Minati Devi told IANS.