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Maharashtra's Deepak Kabra has become the first Indian to be selected as a judge for the gymnastics competition of the Olympic Games. Kabra will be judging the men's artistic gymnasts at the upcoming Tokyo Games.
For Kabra, it was no less than a wish becoming a reality after the uncertainty that he, like others, had to experience due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He had received the invitation to Tokyo in March last year, which was later postponed due to COVID-19. This year, he received another confirmation letter in April, but the second wave of the virus severely hit the country, which made him doubt whether he would make it to the games, but then came the final call for July 23.
The 33-year-old was introduced to the sport relatively late, in 2000 at the age of 12. At the time, he lived in Surat, where advanced gymnastic facilities were not available.
Although he completed several national-level events, including the 2007 National Games in Guwahati, he had realised his fundamentals were not strong as that of an athlete. The gymnast had remained as a Gujarat state champion from 2005 to 2009.
"I knew I didn't have a future as an athlete. My fundamentals were not strong, but I had the passion, so I started judging. My coach Kaushik Bediwala was also a judge, so I took inspiration from him and soon took a course and topped it in 2009," NDTV quoted him as saying.
Kabra received his first international opportunity in 2010, where he officiated the Commonwealth Games held in India. He was the youngest judge at CWG.
Four years later, he officiated the 2014 Asian Games and Youth Olympics, followed by the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018, and was appointed as the Union's technical committee. The 33-year-old has also judged the Youth Olympics in Argentina, besides other international events.
So far, the gymnast has officiated 20 major events, including world cups. "It takes a minimum of 12 years to reach the Olympics, and I was lucky to get it exactly after 12 years. It was the only missing thing in my life, and now it completes my portfolio," Kabra said, reported NDTV.
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