Exclusive Interview: Arjuna awardee Krupali Patel talks about Dipa Karmakar’s chances at Rio 2016

Utkarsh Bhatla
|Published August 08, 2016

Dipa Karmakar has been continuously flirting with history ever since she became the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. Last night she continued her tryst with destiny by qualifying for the individual vault finals, securing the 8th spot.

Witnessing this young Indian athlete toiling day in and day out to put India on the world gymnastics map, we thought we should rope in an expert to give you more insights into how Dipa qualified for the Olympics, what is this ‘special’ vault that she does and what are her odds of winning a medal for the nation at Rio 2016.

So, The SportsRush team got in touch with Krupali Singh Patel, India’s youngest woman Arjuna awardee, who has won many laurels for India in gymnastics during her playing days and is now actively participating in promoting the sport in India.

Post her playing days she has been coaching gymnasts in Jammu and Kashmir and is trying to pave the way for young gymnasts to compete at the global level.

1) So, Dipa is the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. If you could enlighten our audience as to how Dipa qualified for the Olympics and how big a deal it actually is?

Answer: Dipa is the first Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, which is probably the best thing to happen to our sport at this stage. Her qualification has introduced the sport to so many people in our country, which is very healthy, and I feel it will help India develop an acumen towards gymnastics.

Dipa’s qualification wasn’t a very smooth process as she initially missed out on the opportunity by finishing outside the top 3 in the World Championships held in November 2015. She then was shortlisted for a test event under the aegis of IOC and FIG, where she completely aced the Produnova vault to secure her berth at Rio 2016.

And now, she has made it to the top 8 gymnasts in the world by making it to the final round. This is not something India is used to but with Dipa and so many talented gymnasts around, I am sure we’ll get used to seeing a lot of our gymnasts fight it out at the highest level.

Krupali Patel talks about Dipa Karmakar
Krupali Patel talks about Dipa Karmakar

2) If you could tell us more about the highly appreciated Produnova vault, the difficulty level and the risks involved?

Answer: According to me the Produnova vault is the most difficult vault to perform in artistic gymnastics and that is the reason why only 5 gymnasts have been able to successfully attempt it, with Dipa being one of them.

Even thinking about attempting the Produnova vault requires a lot of mental strength and Dipa has been able to inculcate that due to years of hard work.

With regards to the physical conditioning of the player, a lot of time goes in body preparation; development of leg strength, jump and arm strength. Biomechanics and strength are of paramount importance when attempting the Produnova.

Going into a few technicalities, the angle of the first and second rotation needs to be very accurate and the speed of the two rotations need to be very high. It is very important that the hand push during the second flight is very high and when the two rotations are done, the most critical part is the timing of the opening of the body.

The risks involved are immense as a miscalculation in the opening of the body after the second rotation can lead to serious neck, knee and back injuries. Only the best in the world can do it and Dipa is surely amongst them.

3) What do you think are Dipa’s chances of winning a medal at Rio 2016?

Answer: Qualifying for the final event at Rio 2016 and performing such a difficult vault with such accuracy is just like winning a medal. If Dipa can land on her feet in the most artistic way possible, I certainly feel she can get India a medal on 14th August.

I am excited about the possibilities and feel that the entire nation should be rooting for Dipa. She has changed the face of Indian gymnastics, the world will now take India seriously when it comes to gymnastics and I feel that is her biggest achievement till date. I sincerely hope that she gets to be on the podium on the 14th.

The SportsRush would love to thank Krupali Singh Patel for her lovely insights about Gymnastics and hopes that the entire nations stands with Dipa in the finals of the artistic gymnastic event at Rio 2016. Go for gold Dipa!

Here’s the video of the Dipa’s famous Produnova vault

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