21st August 2016 marked the end of world’s biggest sports extravaganza, the Olympics, held in the city of Rio-de-Janeiro in Brazil, South America. USA grabbed the pole position with 121 medals followed by Great Britain with 67 and China with 70. India stood 67th on the tally with 2 medals, a silver and a bronze.
Out of the 2 medals, one was a bronze medal in women’s wrestling won by Sakshi Malik and the other was a silver medal by P V Sindhu in Badminton. Both girls, one 23 years old and the other 21 years old, did it with grit and determination and certainly are a thing to be proud of for each and every Indian.
There were 2 instances on which Indian athletes stood 4th and missed the medal by a whisker. Abhinav Bindra finished 4th in the final of 10m air rifle. A commendable performance and a great career for Bindra came to an end in this Olympics.The other athlete who stood 4th is the one about whom I wanted to write something. She is the girl from Agartala, capital city of the north-eastern state of Tripura.
Dipa Karmakar is an artistic gymnast who represented India at the 2016 Summer Olympics. The 23 year old girl finished 4th in the final vault, missing the gold medal by just a distance of 4 inches. It is not where she finished which I want to discuss, but it is how she got there is what is important. She attempted a ‘Produnova’, an artistic gymnastic vault consisting of a front handspring onto the vaulting horse and two front somersaults off. The vault currently has a 7.0 D-score, and is considered the hardest vault performed in women’s artistic gymnastics. It is named after Yelena Produnova of Russia, who was the first person to complete it successfully in 1999. This vault is extremely dangerous and is called the “vault of death” due to its difficulty and likelihood of injury. A slightest of the mistakes of a hundredth of a second can break the neckline or the spine of the gymnast and result in permanent paralysis or even death if the injury is serious. Few gymnasts in the world, 5 to be precise, have mastered it till now and to attempt it in the finals in spite of the difficulty and risk of a severe injury, speaks volumes about Dipa’s determination, focus and willingness to take risks to perform for the country. It is also inspiring to know that Dipa started off by practicing at wedding venues. She used to practice on scooter seats initially. From there to coming so close to an Olympic medal is quite a journey!
India as a country should be extremely proud of such achievements despite the adversities faced by the athletes and despite the lack of standard training facilities. We wish them the best and hope that all the athletes like Sakshi, Sindhu, Dipa and every athlete who represented the country, to go for gold in the coming Olympics! India certainly needs such heroes and needs to spread their stories so that the next generation is inspired and India can become a true sporting nation winning more medals each time athletes turn up into the arena to perform!!