Dipa Karmakar revives Duleep Singh's gymnastics legacy in Tripura

File Photo:Duleep Singh
IANS|18-Aug-2016 16:56

Agartala, Aug 18 : Three decades after his death, the memory of soldier-turned-legendary gymnastics coach Duleep Singh has again come alive with Dipa Karmakar's performance at the Rio Olympics, focusing global attention on little-known Tripura.

 "Duleep Singh is the father figure of the Tripura gymnastics and Dipa Karmakar is the finest-ever creation of this tiny state," said Mantu Debnath, India's second Arjuna Award winner in gymnastics after Olympian Shyam Lal Khullar and Tripura's most famous gymnast before Dipa.
 "Due to the hard and devoted work of Duleep Singh, Tripura so far has claimed 18 national team titles and seven individual national titles and produced three Arjuna award winners," Debnath, who was cited in 1975, told IANS.
 Two of the Arjuna awardees, Mantu Debnath and Kalpana Debnath, trained under Singh. Dipa, the third, credits her success to coach Bisheshwar Nandi, who, in turn, is a Singh product.
 The 23-year-old Dipa, who had become the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, scored 15.066 points, a mere 0.15 less than eventual bronze winner Giulia Steingruber (15.216) of Switzerland in the final on August 14.
 Debnath said that Singh created an ambiance that attracts many youngsters to take to gymnastics in Tripura.
 Singh, a lance naik and sports instructor in the Indian Army from what is now Haryana, was asked by the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala in 1964 to examine how to promote gymnastics in Tripura.
 "Within a year of Duleep Singh's arrival, Tripura won its first national gold medal -- any sport, any level -- through Bharat Kishore Debbarman in the floor exercises routine at the National School Games," Tripura Gymnastic Association founder-secretary Rupen Bhowmik, who now heads the All India Yoga Federation, said.  

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