Friday, April 22, 2016

Dipa Karmakar Has Failed And This Is Why We Must Not Keep Quiet About It

Dipa Karmakar
Image Courtesy: Reuters
At the age of 22, not many manage to achieve a feat like Dipa Karmakar. Her first-of-its-kind accomplishment in Rio Olympics is known to all. But are we shying away from talking about the not-so-cool part of the gymnast – her failures, hardships, and struggle? Probably yes, because it is not so ‘glittery’.

To begin with, Dipa had an inborn postural deformity (flat feet) which makes it difficult for an athlete to get spring in jumps. She had to undergo extreme difficulties and a lot of physical pain to achieve the desired curve in her feet necessary for a good performance. It requires extraordinary willpower, hardwork and courage to choose and excel at a bold career choice like gymnastics – all this despite the fact that your body was not ideally designed for it in the first place.

For more than eight months before Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, Dipa had to practice without equipment. Nonetheless, she made history in the event by bagging a bronze. All her preparations were supported solely by her on a personal level. The situation changed only after the federation arranged for a two month-training camp for the gymnasts to polish their skills.

Many wouldn’t know that even the road to Rio Olympics has not been smooth for the Tripura-born gymnast and she had failed several times before her recent achievement. In November 2015, Dipa finished fifth in the world championship and missed to secure an Olympic berth. Finishing fifth is technically called an outside podium finish which is a major let down. It is like not even making in T20 semifinals despite being a promising team. Also, just last month, she was shortlisted for the final game where earlier she was kept only as second reserve. Must be a setback, don’t you think?

Since India started participating in the games after her independence, only 11 of our gymnasts have managed to qualify for the Olympics and all were men. It was after a long wait of 52 years that finally Dipa, a woman, achieved this feat for India. She has already bagged more than 77 medals in her career.

Like every winner, success hasn’t come easily to Dipa. She has failed many times and risen up every time. Talking about her lows only makes her story more relatable and motivational. The more we acknowledge and talk about our failures (in a positive manner), the faster we can build a healthy society where 16-year-olds won’t kill themselves failing to crack some over-hyped exam.

We need to shed the stigma and negativity around the word ‘failure’. Let us change the trend and start cheering for one another even when the times are tough and chances of winning look bleak. For failing is a beautiful process after which one emerges stronger and better.

This article was first published in KenFolios - Only interesting stories.

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