DIY apparatus no barrier to Karmakar's soaring ambitions

Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:19pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - When Dipa Karmakar launches into her soaring vault at the Rio Olympics, chances are that only a handful of people will be aware that the foundations of the skill were built on DIY apparatus made from second-hand parts of a discarded scooter.

"We initially had no apparatus and had to use our imagination to improvise," Karmakar's coach Bisweshwar Nandi told Reuters in an interview in his native Bengali.

"For example we stacked eight to 10 crash mats on top of each other to make a vaulting platform. We bought second-hand springs and shock absorbers from discarded scooters, then asked a local carpenter to make some kind of a spring board with the bits.

"So when Dipa first started to vault, she used to jump from this onto a pile of mats."

In August, the gymnast will get a chance to show the world just how far she has come since her rather primitive start in the sport when she attempts a daring Produnova vault.

It is a skill so difficult -- consisting of a front handspring and two front somersaults -- that Karmakar is one of only five women to have landed it in competition.

But as the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, Karmakar knows she has to pull off something spectacular if she wants the world to take notice.

"My coach was frightened when I first started doing the vault because he thought I could break my neck or end up dead but I wanted to push the boundaries," Karmakar, the only Indian to reach an apparatus final at the world championships, told Reuters.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO - Dipa Karmakar of India performs during the women's gymnastics vault apparatus final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning/File photo