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Dipa eyes Olympic berth with strong performances


Dipa Karmakar
 NEW DELHI, March 13: India’s Dipa Karmakar will look to secure an Olympic berth with “some good performances” at back-to-back Artistic Gymnastics World Cups in Baku and Doha, beginning on Thursday.

Dipa had claimed a bronze at the vault event of the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Cottbus, Germany in November 2018, to make a strong bid for her Olympic qualification.

It was Dipa’s first appearance after recovering from a knee strain, which had spoilt her chances at the Jakarta Asian Games, where she missed the vault final and also had to pull out of the team event.

However, she recovered in time to secure a third-spot finish at Cottbus, keeping alive her chances of Olympic qualification.

Although Dipa skipped the World Cup in Melbourne (February 21-24), she is now eyeing good outings at the two World Cups - Baku (March 14-17) and Doha (March 20-23).

“This time the Olympic qualifications is through several routes including the World Cups. I want to explore all possible routes to increase my chances for the 2020 Olympic qualifications and my confidence has risen after winning a medal at the World Cup in Germany last year,” Dipa had said.

“I hope to produce some good performances and progress towards the Olympics,” added the gymnast from Agartala, who had vaulted her way to a fourth place finish at the Rio Olympics.

The two upcoming tournaments are part of an eight-event qualifying system for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, under which the gymnasts will make the cut based on the their top three scores.

However, the run-up to the two events was shrouded in uncertainty for Dipa with the Sport Authority of India (SAI) not clearing the trips even though the Gymnastic Federation of India (GFI) had sent her entry to FIG in time.

On March 5, SAI cleared her and coach Bisweswar Nandi’s trip for the two World Cups and they left for Azerbaijan last Tuesday.

Nandi had made it clear that nothing less than a gold will do for his ward.

“To qualify for the Olympics, she will have to win gold in the next 3-4 events of the World Cup she participates in,” Nandi had said.

While Dipa will be the only Indian hope at Baku World Cup, the country will also see representatives in the men’s category at Qatar.

SAI conducted a selection trial for the men gymnasts on Monday here and Karnataka’s Ujwal Naidu pipped seasoned Ashish Kumar in floor event to grab a berth, while Yogeshwar Singh of SSCB emerged on top in vault to qualify for the Doha event.

Interestingly, GFI had sent the entries of Ashish Kumar and Yogeshwar Singh in the men’s artistic event in Doha after they showed interest to participate in the tournament. – PTI

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