Gymnastics is not a sport that is welcomed enthusiastically in India.
Dipa was born with flat feet – not a good physical sign for a gymnast.
She was born in Tripura, one of the poorest states in India.
But what she lacked in facilities and how life turned out to be, she made up for in sheer determination and grit. Standing at just 4 feet 11 inches, the 23-year-old, pocket-sized gymnast is a powerhouse dynamo.
She started training as a gymnast from the tender age of just 5 and the coach she started with is the same coach she works with today
She was flat-footed, and that was the first thing his lifetime coach Biswaswar Nandi noticed when she came to train with him.
Flat feet are an inherent disadvantage for gymnasts. It affects their jumps and landings, and her coach and Dipa worked really hard to fix it.
If caught early, flat feet can be fixed by increasing the curve of the feet.
“That was the hardest part to fix for Dipa, we had to work very, very hard when she was a little kid to get the curve in her feet.”
Because she trained in Tripura, her training grounds would occasionally get flooded
Add to it the difficulty in getting funds for training and maintaining top-notch health without any recognition whatsoever. It is worthwhile remembering that Dipa was almost unknown in India until she qualified for Olympics.
Biswaswar Nandi has trained her for the past 17 years, being her only coach. He is extremely strict with her which has led to her success
Dipa still feels the strictness in Nandi’s regime because she still cries sometimes.
“I still do cry sometimes when sir scolds me, but I know it is for my own good.”
It is good to know that she credits all her success to her coach and his dedication to grooming her to become the best in the country.
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In 2007, she won the Junior National Championships for the first time, and has won 77 medals since then, including 67 golds.
This includes a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and at the Hiroshima Asian Championships.
The pint-sized gymnast has the courage of a lion. She is only the fifth person in history to land the Produnova vault.
“I like taking risks”, says Dipa. The Produnova vault is the most difficult move in gymnastics, with even the American World champion Simone Biles veering away from the vault saying “I’m not trying to die.”
She has practiced the Produnova 1000 times in the past 3 months
In her dedication, Dipa has not had sweets for several years now and trains for 8 hours every day
She follows a very strict diet – only food that suits her body and strictly adhering to her regimen. Her only rest day comes from Sundays when she relaxes and wakes up at 9 pm.
She does not even crib or complain about the lack of facilities or help from the Sports Ministry. She believes only in herself and her coach
That is why she has come so far – concentrating on her training rather than complaining.
And this attitude is what will take Dipa far.
We are with her all the way!