Pro(u)dunova: You missed it, but you’ve inspired a nation, Dipa

Dipa Karmakar averaged 15.0666 to finish fourth, just 0.15 points behind the third place contestant.

“You have to win a medal for us,” the demand came from none other than PT Usha two days after Dipa Karmakar met her at the dinner table at the Games Village.

“Our days were different when mere participation was a matter of pride in Olympics. You’ve got to make the entire country proud with a gymnastics medal. You are an inspiration for all back home,” Usha told Dipa. And she got the best reward for all her hard work and dedication that she has shown in the last three years when her coach Bishweshwar Nandi came to her and said that he has got “more than what he has taught her”.

The tight hug of a father-figure said it all in one line. “You have repaid everything more than what I deserved. Just relax and don’t even think about the finals. Remember, you have made me proud,” Nandi tried to take the pressure off Dipa. On Sunday, as Dipa entered the gymnastics arena here, all eyes were chasing this tiny girl from Tripura. And, she nearly got a medal for India in her favourite vault.

But it was the last vault by two-time world champion Simone Biles of the US that shattered Indian hopes. Dipa, who was in third position by then, was pushed out of medal contention. Biles scored 15.966 to take the gold.

Dipa scored 15.066 and fell behind two other competitors – Russian Maria Pasea (15.253) and Swiss Guulia Steingruber (15.216) – to finish fourth.

Dipa has done what was expected of her. Coming this close to winning a medal in gymnastics has given a great boost to this game back home.