Dipa Karmakar lost the final battle at the Rio Olympics but she left an impression on her city by competing with the best in the world and finishing fourth in women’s vault final on Sunday night.
The tiny and sleepy city, decorated with posters and banners wishing Dipa and her coach Bishweswar Nandi luck, remained awake till late into the night to watch the local star shine in Rio.
The mood at the Karmakar house in Abhaynagar was positive despite Dipa missing out on a medal. Scores of media-persons gathered here jostled for sound bytes from Dipa’s parents, Dulal and Gauri, after the event.
The Karmakar family, its relatives and friends and the local MP watched Dipa live on television at a makeshift roof-top arrangement, with a big screen, at their house.
“I am proud of the way she has performed,” said Dulal.
“Some people tell me I don’t have a son, but I tell them I don’t need a son when my daughter is doing me so proud. She is my son. I don’t feel the absence of a son.”
Dulal said he would present Dipa, who became the first Indian gymnast to make the Olympics final, with a nice gift. “It will remain a surprise,” he said.
Dipa’s mother Gauri shared her emotions too. “I enjoy the attention I get as Dipa’s mother,” she said.
Earlier, Dipa’s one-time coach Soma Nandi too said she took pride in the young gymnast’s achievements.
With her husband Bishweswar Nandi now having taken over coaching duties, Soma said she has smilingly accepted the fact that he would be away most of the time.
“I have adjusted and made the sacrifice. Had I not made the sacrifice, Dipa Karmakar would not have been Dipa Karmakar today,” Soma told The Hindu while celebrating Dipa’s extraordinary effort in Rio.
Dipa, who learnt her first lessons in gymnastics under Soma as a five-year-old at the tin-roofed Vivekananda Byayamgar, landed a gold medal in balance beam in the North East Games within two-and-a-half years.
That opened her path to join the Netaji Subhash Regional Coaching Centre where she came under the guidance of Bishweswar, a multiple National champion.
“I was fully confident of Nandi sir’s capabilities. I encouraged him to back Dipa and see to it that she achieves a lot,” said Soma.