After winning a gold medal at the World Challenge Cup this weekend, gymnast Dipa Karmakar is currently the most celebrated athlete in India.
The 24-year-old gymnast took home the gold in the vault event in Turkey on July 8, marking the first time she has medaled at a World Cup event. Indian gymnastic officials and fans are hoping her strong showing means that she has a chance at medaling at next month’s Asia Games, which will begin on August 18 in Indonesia.
Back with a bang and a 🥇#DipaKarmakar is the stuff champions are made of! After battling an injury for the past 2 yrs, she makes a heroic comeback by clinching her first 🥇in the Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Turkey! Many Congratulations to her👏👏for making 🇮🇳 proud! pic.twitter.com/cylNEBlfkA
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) July 8, 2018
Her success at the World Challenge Cup was especially sweet because it came after a long and painful rehabilitation after injuring her knee and subsequently having to surgery on her ACL after the Rio Olympics in 2016.
We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about Karmakar as she gets ready for the Asian Games below.
She made history at the Rio Olympics
Karmakar became the first ever Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics when she headed to Rio in 2016. In India’s history, there have only been three gymnasts total that have qualified for the Games. While she wowed fans with her performance, she narrowly missed medaling after the vault finals. Karmakar ended up finishing with an average score of 15.066 points, which was a mere 0.15 less than Swiss gymnast Giulia Steingruber, who wound up with the bronze.
She has mastered the ‘vault of death’
Karmakar’s biggest gymnastics achievement is her mastery of the Produnova, a famed move that’s also known in gynmastics circles as the “vault of death.” Named after Russian gymnast Yelena Produnova — who first performed the move successfully in 1999 — the vault requires the gymnast to do a front handspring onto the vault and then two somersaults off it it. Karmakar successfully landed the Produnova at the 2014 Commonwealth Games to great fanfare. Her execution of the Produnova is largely credited with the reason she received the bronze medal at the Games.
While her knee injury currently prevents her from attempting the Produnova, Karmakar told reporters she hoped to begin doing the vault again by the end of the year.
She thrives in a sport that receives little support
Indian athletes have often struggled with (and been vocally frustrated about) finding the funding and proper equipment to train for events. Karmakar was no exception. As GQ India reported in 2016, as a teen Karmakar practiced on stacked mattresses because her gym did not have a proper vault. Her lack of resources also led her to compete in a borrowed costume that fit badly in her first few competitions.
She has a list of firsts to her name
In addition to being the first Indian woman gymnast to make it to the Olympics, Karmakar was also the first to medal in gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games and the first Indian gymnastics World Championships finalist in 2015.