Dipa Karmakar today scripted history by becoming the first Indian gymnast to clinch a gold medal at a global event, announcing in style her comeback from a career-threatening injury, at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Mersin, Turkey. Returning to action after a lay-off of nearly two years due to a knee injury, Dipa emerged triumphant in the vault event.
The 24-year-old from Tripura, who had finished fourth in vault event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, scored 14.150 to win the top prize. She had topped the qualification with a score of 13.400.
"This is history and Dipa has created it. She is now the first Indian gymnast to win a gold in a world level event," Gymnastics Federation of India vice-president Riyaz Ahmed Bhati told PTI.
In her first attempt, Dipa had a difficulty score of 5.400 while collecting 8.700 in execution for a total of 14.100. She improved the score in her second attempt to 14.200 (5.600+8.600), giving her a total average of 14.150.
Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia clinched the silver with 13.400 points while local participant Goksu Uctas Sanli took the bronze with a score of 13.200.
Dipa, who is being accompanied by her coach Bisheshwar Nandi, missed out on another medal as she finished fourth in the balance beam event. She had made the balance beam finals after finishing third in the qualification with a score of 11.850.
Dipa had suffered an Anetrior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury after the Rio Olympics and had undergone a surgery. She was initially confident of making a comeback at the Commonwealth Games but rehabilitation took more time than expected and she missed the Gold Coast event.
Meanwhile, Rakesh Patra missed out on a medal in the men's rings event finals as he finished fourth with a score of 13.650. Ibrahim Colak of the host country won the gold with a total score of 15.100 while Romanian Andrei Vasile (14.600) and Dutchman Yuri van Gelder (14.300) took the silver and bronze respectively.
Rakesh also competed in the parallel bars finals but finished fifth. Dipa and Rakesh are the only two Indians who competed in the tournament.
World Challenge Cup series is an important competition in the calendar of International Gymnastics Federation. There are six events in the World Challenge Cup series this year and this is the fourth leg of the season.
Both Dipa and Rakesh have been included in the 10-member Indian gymnastics team for the upcoming Asian Games.