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Before Dipa KarmakarBefore Dipa Karmakar

The ‘Produnova’ challenges women’s gymnastics

(Rio de Janeiro, brpress) - Indian Dipa Karmakar and Oxana Chusovitina, a 41-year-old Uzbek who is the Games’ oldest gymnast, fear not the most dangerous maneuver in women’s gymnastics.

(Rio de Janeiro, brpress) – The Rio 2016 women’s gymnastics competition began Sunday (August 7th) and two athletes here wants to make history – in other words the “Produnova”: Dipa Karmakar, a 22-year-old Indian who is the first woman gymnast from her country ever to qualify for the Olympics, and Oxana Chusovitina, a 41-year-old Uzbek who is the Games’ oldest gymnast – neither of whom is considered an Olympics favorite. They fear not the single most difficult and dangerous maneuver in women’s gymnastics. 

The Produnova vault, which is named after Russian gymnast Elena Produnova, who first landed it in 1999, is what happens when they sprint at the vault and catapult high enough to flip twice in the air.  The absolute favourite, American gym star Simone Biles, puts it another way: “I’m not trying to die,” she told the New Yorker magazine earlier this year, referring to the Produnova, that won’t be attempted by anyone on Team USA. “The vault is very dangerous,” Dipa Karmakar said in Rio. “I say, ‘Thank you, I like risk’.”

Bollywood star 

Karmakar, whose gym in the tiny Indian state of Tripura would flood during monsoon season, is treated like a Bollywood star by the Indian press in Rio in part because she embraces the Produnova. She said she has pulled it off 1,000 times in the past three months alone. “Now it’s the easiest vault for me”, she garanteed, before sprinting down the runway, pushing off the vault and reeling off the Produnova rotations. She landed in a seated position and snagged the last spot in the vault final. She was only less applauded by the public than the Brazilian girly team. People love it. And she won the Brazilians hearts.

Daring Dipa Karmakar qualified the Individual vault finals in Gymnastics. Should she have thought twice before declaring: “I hope this vault becomes more famous than me in India”? In a preliminary competition, Oxana Chusovitina had a different approach: “The main thing was to qualify,” she told reporters. “Then in the final I will do the Produnova”. She was quite conservative on her presentation, but as a living legend – Chusovitina is five years older than Ms. Produnova herself and has been in seven Olympic Games, around for 28 years –, performed well enough to amaze other gymnasts for even considering doing the Produnova. 

Old x new gym school 

The old school Oxana Chusovitina competed for the U.S.S.R. and has never tried the Produnova in an Olympic competition. Asked this week why she was turning to the Produnova, she said she was “more confident with my skills” than when she was younger.  Before Dipa Karmakar, the “vault of dead” was attempted only by five women in the world in competition.

Karmakar, who turns 23 on 9 August, is the first Indian gymnast to compete at the Games since 1964. She made her name by winning a bronze medal at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, at which she landed the Produnova in her vault final. Her qualification for Rio 2016 was a cause for national celebration in April, with cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar weighing in on social media to express his delight: “Finally our own Nadia Comaneci. Dipa Karmakar u r the pride of our Nation.Ur achievements inspire us”. She will now strive to make her ‘vault of death’ better on 14 August, hoping for a podium finish.