Gymnastics – Before Rio Olympics 2016, it was hardly a known entity in India. Then came Dipa Karmakar, who impressed everyone with her exceptional performance in the Olympics. People praised her. Wrote about her on social media. And in less than a month, Indian Gymnast players went back to being hardly a thing in India.
What we don’t know is the fact that before and even after Dipa, there are few others, who have made India proud on an international level. In fact, India had its first Gymnastics participation at the Olympic Games way back in 1952. Then again in 1956 and 1964.
But despite all the obstructions, a handful of Indians have worked really hard to achieve success in Gymnastics. And it would be a shame if we don’t acknowledge and celebrate their success just because this particular game is not popular enough.
So without further ado, here are the best Indian Gymnast of all time:
1List of famous Indian Gymnast
|4||Meghana Gundlapally Reddy|
2Dipa Karmakar: Indian Gymnast
First on the list is, of course, the blue-eyed Indian Gymnast & superstar Dipa Karmakar. But before we get to her Rio 2016 story, let us see how and where she started.
Dipa first grabbed the headlines in 2014, when she won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in women’s individual vault. She became the first Indian gymnast (female) to win a medal in history.
But more than a medal, it was Dipa’s performance that surprised the world. She executed the most difficult vault, the Produnova vault, also known as the vault of death with a score of 15.1 (D-7, Ex- 8.1). She became only the 5th gymnast to pull of the Produnova vault. In the 2015 Asian Championship, Dipa won yet another bronze in Vault, yet another first for any Indian Gymnast.
Dipa became the first Indian Gymnast (female) to qualify for the Olympics after her score of 14.833 in the Test Events. The girl from Tripura gave everything in Rio but just missed out on a bronze medal finishing fourth overall.
Dipa has since been awarded by Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Padma Shri by the Government of India. And if her willpower is anything to go by, she will definitely make up for missing out on an Olympic medal in the next year’s Tokyo Games.
3Aruna Reddy: Indian Gymnast
Aruna Reddy created history at the 2018 Gymnastics World Cup, by becoming the first Indian gymnast to win the medal in an individual event. She won the bronze medal in the women’s individual vault event and that was the first time Indian National Anthem was ever played during the Gymnastics World Cup.
The 23-year old also participated in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in both individual and team events but failed to repeat her World Championship heroics. Aruna has also performed at 2013, 2014, and 2017 World Championship before her eventual success in 2018.
4Ashish Kumar: Indian Gymnast
Yes, Dipa Karmakar brought fame to Gymnastics in India. But the credit must go to Ashish Kumar (Indian Gymnast) as well, who won India’s first-ever medal in Gymnastics on an international stage.
The Allahabad-born Kumar won not one but two medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He first won the bronze medal in the floor exercise and followed it with a silver in men’s vault. His exceptional year continued with yet another bronze in the floor exercise at the 2010 Asian Games. Now a 29-year old veteran of the game has also won a bronze medal back in 2006 in Asian Championship.
And Ashish Kumar had to do it against all odds. After Ashish’s historic bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Gymnastics Federation of India asked his coach,
“Is this all that you can deliver, a bronze?” To which, the coach revealed how they had to struggle for basic needs for Ashish’s practice. “In August 2009, we had no equipment. Ashish trained on the hard floor till February 2010, and then we got equipment around 20 years old.” said the coach, revealing the situation of Gymnastics in India.
5Meghana Gundlapally Reddy: Indian Gymnast
Meghana Gundlapally Reddy became the first Indian Gymnast to perform in Rhythmic Gymnastics at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She is just 16-year old right now with a great future ahead of her.
6Sham Lal: Indian Gymnast
Sham Lal was born in 1938. He is a famous Indian gymnast who participated in 7 events at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Also, he is the first 1st Gymnast to win the Arjuna Award in 1961.
7Mantu Debnath: Indian Gymnast
Mantu Debnath belongs to Agartala, Tripura. He became the 1st Indian gymnast to win an international competition in Russia in 1969. Mantu was the winner of the national gymnastics championship. Also, he won the Arjuna Award in 1975 for his contributions to gymnastics. Mantu was the 1st Arjuna awardee from Tripura and the 2nd Indian Arjuna awardee for gymnastics after Sham Lal. This great gymnast was trained by legendry athlete Dalip Singh.
Sunita Sharma is an Indian gymnast from Ambala, Haryana. She is the winner of the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1985 for her achievements in the field of gymnastics.
Krupali Patel is an Indian gymnastics player & coach. She won the Arjuna Award in the year 1989 for her significant contributions to Indian gymnastics. She holds the record of India’s youngest Arjuna awardee.
Kalpana Debnath is another Indian gymnastics player from Tripura. She is the winner of the Arjuna Award in 2000. She is the 2nd Arjuna awardee from Tripura after Mantu Debnath.
Let us start with a few names which are difficult to find even on the internet but their work needs to be recognized.
Indian Gymnastics Players
Vir Singh and Khushi Ram were the first Indian Gymnastics players to represent India in the Olympics. Then 22-year old Singh and 36-year old Khushi were both from Gurdaspur in Punjab. Although they finished last in almost every event, it is worth remembering their names as the first ones on the biggest stage to represent India.
Anant Ram is the only Indian gymnast to represent India at two different Olympic Games – At Melbourne in 1956 and Tokyo in 1964. And there is every chance that he will not be the only one to do so at the end of Tokyo 2020.