Star gymnast Dipa Karmakar’s coach Bisweshwar Nandi has dismissed the notion that it would have been better had she and other top performers at last month’s Rio Games been given the sort of financial backing they got post the mega event before their sojourn to Brazil.
“This is India. You have to first perform (before reaping rewards). You people also write about them only after they do something special,” said Dronacharya awardee, Bisweshwar, after he and his ward were felicitated at the 39th National Convention of the Sports Journalists’ Federation of India here last night.
Nandi’s answer was in reply to the opinion expressed by many top yesteryear sportspersons, including former hockey captain Dilip Tirkey who was honoured here a day earlier, that it would be very helpful for the athletes to get as much backing when they prepare for mega events such as the Olympics.
Dipa, who became the toast of the nation by finishing fourth after narrowly missing the bronze in the vault, and Rio medal winners – shuttler P V Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik – have been flooded with cash prizes as well as swanky cars after the conclusion of the Games.
Nandi also spoke about the hot temper Dipa possessed when she came under his wings and how he channelised the temper of his ward into excelling in the sport.
“I was warned by her father that she was a stubborn person with a hot temper. I experienced it first-hand too during her training regimen when I wanted her to stop after an extended session as I feared injury. I then channelised it into her gymnastics,” said Nandi.
The coach also explained how she was rejected by another coach who termed her flat-footed and how he (Nandi) recommended seven to eight exercises for Dipa who did them diligently before returning to become his ward after nine months.
Thanking SJFI, Dipa recalled her journey from her younger days till her narrow miss in Rio.
“I was not interested in gymnastics and did not understand it,” she recalled her days when she was introduced to the sport by her father.
“I am deeply indebted to sir (Nandi). He’s like a God to me. I got two silver medals and the team gold in the 2007 junior nationals and in 2009 joined the India camp where I was asked whether I was from Bangladesh,” said the gymnast from Tripura who became the first from the country to qualify for the Olympic Games after half a century.
“My first international championship was in London. I beat all the seniors in the second selection trial for the 2010 Commonwealth Games (in Delhi). But sir told me to look ahead only,” said the 23-year-old Dipa.
The Agartala-born gymnast also said how the bronze medal won by Ashish Kumar in the Delhi CWG inspired her.
“Ashish Kumar won the medal in the 2010 CWG. And it was the first by an Indian gymnast and we were all very happy. We set a target that I had to win a medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,” said Dipa who won the bronze in the Games.
She said how tough it was to qualify for the Rio Games and how hard she worked in the run-up to the Olympics.
“Poora jaan laga diya (gave my all),” was how she put it.
She was full of praise for the support extended by the Sports Authority of India and GoSports Foundation, a private organisation that supports her.
“I knew it will be very tough to get a medal in Rio. I did over 1000 Produnova vaults during my training. I was very happy when I qualified for the finals as I was very happy to produce a result for my sir after so much sacrifice,” she said.
“To calm me down he said it was a big achievement to qualify for the finals and at worst I will finish eighth and not ninth. It was 14 August there and 15 here (Independence Day) and I was thrilled that gymnastics was watched by so many Indians,” she added.
(With PTI inputs)