France’s Samir Ait Said may have suffered a gruesome broken leg on the vault but Dipa Karmakar is ready to execute the ‘vault of death’ in the women’s event to become the first Indian gymnast to win an Olympic medal.
Ait Said, 26, suffered a horrific double leg fracture in men’s qualifying Saturday, causing shocked competitors to question the scoring system which pushes athletes to try increasingly dangerous moves.
But undaunted Karmakar, 22, has vowed she will perform the difficult ‘Produnova’ vault in the women’s event which gets underway with qualifying on Sunday.
“I believe that practice makes perfect, and then it is not difficult anymore,” she insisted. “My coach ensured that I practised extensively.”
The Produnova -- a handspring double-front somersault -- has the highest degree of difficultly for a women’s vault, a 7.0, and only five people have attempted in competition.
It’s so dangerous some want it banned because of the potentially life-threatening injuries if a gymnast over-rotates and lands on their neck.
But Karmakar, the first Indian gymnast to compete at the Games since 1964, is determined.
“In the last three months I did 1,000 repetitions of the move,” she said. “Now it is the easiest vault for me.”
She won a bronze medal at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games after landing the Produnova in her vault final.
“Not many in the country knew about this until recently, and now I hope that this vault becomes more famous,” she said.
Gasps of horror
There was drama in the Rio Olympic Arena on the opening day of the gymnastics competition when Ait Said snapped the lower part of his left leg landing badly, suffering a double tibia and fibula fracture.
He was visibly in agony as his leg flopped to one side to gasps of horror from the crowd and competitors.
The German team were also reeling after national all-around champion Andreas Toba was forced out with a knee injury.
“I was warming up when I saw it (Ait Said accident) on TV,” said Germany’s Fabien Hambuechen, a silver medallist from London 2012 on the horizonal bar.
“There’s always more difficult, higher risk. It’s getting dangerous,” said Hambuechen.
“I don’t like this new system. I’m the guy who still loves the 10.0. The new system is pushing people and making it dangerous.”
French team leader Corinne Callon said the entire team were distressed.
“We’re still overcome by emotion, it’s unexpected, dramatic,” Callon told AFP.
“He made a technical mistake. We don’t know what happened. He hurt his other leg in London (2012 Games).”
She added: “We have to talk to the (French team) girls, as well, because they saw it happen. We will take care of their emotions today because they compete tomorrow.”
The perfect 10.0 scoring system was revamped after a scoring controversy at the 2004 Athens Games.
Gymnasts have since been awarded points starting at an initial 10-point score, and are scored based on the difficulty of their routine.