A Legend Is Born


Like most Indians, I had no idea of what a Produnova was till a week ago, would never have been able to tell it from a Supernova or a Kournikova.

Now I know.

Thank you Dipa Karmakar. You are now a legend and an inspiration. That does not mean, we as a nation will remember you, of course we won’t, unless we have Farhan Akthar or Priyanka Chopra playing you in your biopic, with the script written by Shobha De or Chetan Bhagat, each of whom will then go on to make more money off your name than you will manage in a lifetime.

But thank you, because for those few seconds when you floated in the air, you inspired us, a nation with little culture of sports or physical exercise, at least compared to the world, to soar, before we came down to the bitching and backbiting and snarky people that we usually are.

Dipa Karmakar came forth. She did not win. Who cares?

Yes I have already heard that.

For one, the context matters. Being fourth in the cricket World Cup is not the same as being fourth in the football World Cup. Being fourth in the cricket World Cup in 2016 for India is not the same as being fourth in the cricket World Cup in 1975. And being fourth in a gymnastics women’s event is not the same as being fourth in many other events at the Olympics.

Sorry boss. Not all sports are created equal. Not even at the Olympics.

And here is the final kicker. A flat-footed girl, overcame the sexism and prejudices and the overall mismanagement and lack of infrastructure that characterizes all of our Olympics sports, and that too from a state which most Indians won’t be able to find on a map of their country, to shoot to 2nd on the roster after the sixth contestant, to settle to 4 finally, in gymnastics, and yes read that again gymnastics, is pretty legendary awesome.

But what about PT Usha? What about Milkha Singh? They came fourth in track and field, we are told, and only if they had come third, we would have been China in the Olympics. But no. It’s not they to blame for India’s wretched position in sports in the community of nations, those champions did what they could. It was the failure of their generations, and those that came after that, to take the spark they lit and turn it into a fire. Maybe the country doesn’t think Olympic sports was important enough. Maybe there were other priorities. But whatever the reasons be as to why India is where it is in world sports, to somehow use that to disparage the performance of an Usha or a Singh and now a Karmakar is Indian whining at its worst. No one cares for the struggles of these people for four years, or bother to tune in to National athletics events on TV or horror of horrors, attend an event in person and cheer for them, and then they wake up and expect medals, and if that isn’t a sense of false entitlement I don’t know what is.

So well done Dipa Karmakar. Well done.

I shall not forget.

[Picture: Indian Express]



20 thoughts on “A Legend Is Born

  1. Arnab Da, I think there is a typo.

    “would never have been able to tell it from a Supernova or a Kournikova.”

    Shouldn’t it be like ?
    would never have been able to tell how it is different from a Supernova or a Kournikova.

      1. this is the best comment reply in the history of comment replies, jai ho!

  2. ” bitching and backbiting and snarky people that we usually are” .. perfectly sums up indian mentality and state of affairs….so feel sorry for Dipa. Yet happy that she can probably lead a better life financially than she did earlier, although much much less than she deserves.

  3. ‘Hats off’ to all the vaulting girls !!. The bravest lot. They risk their life to give spectators pleasure.(few bitters as usual..).

  4. This is great, my dear. I love this article and the way you expressed your thoughts. I support these views and pity on them who expect medals from our these poor participants. India should wake up even now if they really expect something to happen.

  5. Thanks Arnab – thanks for this. It is amazing and inspiring that Dipti dared follow her dream – and kudos to her family for letting her do it. She has broken a lot of stereotypes in her journey to Rio – being female in a sport with real history her and from a state which is not only out of the way but out of mind for most of us!!
    It will be interesting to see how many “leaders” crawl out of the woodwork now to claim credit for her performance!!

    1. Dipa, not Dipti…

  6. I guess after this publicity, and of course thanks to Dipa Karmakar, that people in India will stop thinking gymnastics as a circus event.

  7. “Not all sports are created equal. Not even at the Olympics” – Absolutely. No offence to the medal winners in shooting but I think olympics should only be about human endevour without any device or gadgets. Rifle/pistol shooting does not seem to me as true ‘sport’, though I know at this level it’s not only about standing and pulling trigger.

  8. Rajshree Sharma August 15, 2016 — 2:58 pm

    dear Deepa
    whether its ‘De’ or night
    tell them to keep
    their mouth shut tight
    we are proud you tried

  9. Cricket sucks up all the oxygen in the Country. Until and unless Cricket is given a little less importance, other sports will not be able to shine.

  10. Yes, thats exactly how I and hopefully, many others feel about it. Well done, Deepa. And thank you GB for putting it across so bluntly.

  11. Thank you for this article. Brilliantly written.
    The Indian public needs this … We don’t need corrupt IOA officials. Indifferent sports ministers. OR Snarky bitchy journalists.

  12. SHYAM KISHORE MUKHERJEE August 16, 2016 — 5:39 pm

    Dear Miss Deepa Karmakar, you made all of us proud . You provided us a chance to cherish your triumph. Though you didn’t win the contest, but you won many millions of patriotic Indian hearts.
    Your skills, prowess, determination n dedication is admirable. Despite being deprived of advance equipments, physio, and proper training, you almost turned impossible to possible. God bless you , may you bring many more laurels to you, your family n also to the whole country.

  13. who cares for Olaampics anyway?
    Our cows are safe 🙂

  14. excellent piece of writing!

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