India’s North East region has exotic places with lush green lands and beautiful Snow-capped Mountains. The people are friendly, warm and welcoming. Also, the enthusiasm for sports and fitness activities in the North Eastern states is a well-known fact and Sports women from this region proved their mettle for Indian in Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The nation is proud of sports persons from the region for their stunning performances at many platforms including Olympic Games. Mirabai and Lovlina, the daughters of North East region once again proved the region’s spirit and the whole country proud of the timely success in Tokyo Olympics by winning silver and bronze medals, in weight lifting and boxing respectively. Two women from the North East were the first two to win medals for India in Tokyo. In the age of instant media, their life stories are already viral and resonate with a lot of common Indians. The struggles are real, all too familiar.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Mirabai Chanu, a young woman from Manipur created history as she became the first Indian to win a medal on Day one of the Olympics. She is now the first Indian weightlifter to win Olympic silver and the second Indian woman to win a silver medal after PV Sindhu. Chanu won silver in the women’s 49kg weightlifting category after lifting a total of 202 kg, ending a wait of 21 years to secure a win at the coveted event. She is only the second weightlifter from India after Karnam Malleswari, who had won bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. However, her journey to the podium receiving the silver medal wasn’t an easy one.
In an inspiring gesture, she felicitated those who helped her, the truck drivers. The young athlete had to take numerous lifts from truck drivers for her daily commute from her home in a tiny village to her training academy in Imphal, some 30 km away. So, to express her gratitude she hosted an event for them and honored them for their contribution in her achievement. Chanu couldn’t afford private transportation to the academy every day. So, she relied on those sand-carrying truckers who travelled on the same route. The 26-year-old silver medallist treated 150 truck drivers and their helpers to a nice lunch and gifted them all a shirt and a Manipuri scarf. The young Olympian was visibly emotional on the occasion. The thoughtful gesture by the Olympians earned plaudits online, with many commending her for ‘not forgetting’ those who helped her reach the top. Chanu’s humility is winning hearts on the internet.
Lovlina Borgohain, the 23-year-old boxer from the state of Assam has won a bronze medal in the women’s Boxing welterweight category (64-69kg) after she loses to Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey 0-5 in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics. Her father is a small-scale businessman who has struggled financially to fund his daughter’s desire. The Assamese began kickboxing after following in the footsteps of her twin sisters Licha and Lima. However, unlike her sisters, who went on to participate at the national level in kickboxing, Lovlina chose boxing.It was only when she met her first coach PadumBoro, her life took definite turn. Boro who worked at Sports Authority of India’s Shillong and Dimapur centres introduced her to boxing and since then there has been no looking back for Lovlina. SAI was holding the trials at Barpathar Girls High School, where she studied, and Lovlina showed her skills when she took part in the trials. That’s how Boro noticed her exceptional talent started honing it from 2012.
In her journey to reach the pinnacle, she battled the society who used to question her interest in Boxing being a female. But this did not jitter her aspirations leading to her first major breakthrough; a Bronze at the World Championship in 2018. She went on to win her first major medal at the World Championships in 2018. With a bronze medal at the 2017 Asian Championships, the 23-year-old captured the limelight for the first time. After qualifying for Tokyo Olympic 2020, she became the first Woman in History of Assam to qualify for Olympics. It took an assured Olympic medal for the village of Baromukhia in Assam’s Golaghat district to get a motorable road. Thanks to boxer Lovlina Borgohain, her native villagers finally see a road being constructed in their locality for Lovlina to return with the Olympic bronze medal from Tokyo.
If we recall, Mary Kom was one of the six Olympic medalists for India in London in 2012. Nine years ago, Mary Kom was a 5-time world amateur champion and had made her Olympic debut with a bang. Immediately after her bronze at the London games, she would go on to be a role model for youngsters vying for glory at the top.Mary Kom’s medal in London not only inspired an entire generation of Indian athletes, but also stirred up a revolution of sorts in India’s North East. In 2016 Dipa Karmakar from Tripura qualified to represent India for the first time in the finals of Rio Olympics. Earlier she won the Bronze medal in Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014.There was Baichung Bhutia whose exploits on the football field are part of sporting folklore in India. But Mary Kom’s Olympic bronze paved the way for the sports-conscious youth of the North East to dream and dream big.
It’s worth to mention about some of the sports persons from the region, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Tarundeep Rai men’s archery. He hails from Namchi in Sikkim and first took part in the Olympics back in 2004. He has an immense amount of experience with several World Championship and Asian Games medals under his belt. Lalremsiami, the 21-year-old will be the first person from her state to represent India at the Olympics. She hails from the town of Kolasib located north of Aizwal in Mizoram. She has previously represented India at the Asia Cup, Asian Champions Trophy and was selected at the age of 18 to play at the World Cup in 2018.
Now, it is high time for the country to locate the real talent from the interior rural areas of this region and train them in their natural sports. Northeast region has huge pool of talent in sporting areas such as Canoeing, Archery, Swimming, Boxing, Weightlifting, Athletics and Football. If the country creates continues adequate training facilities at local level, India can bag many medals in the international events like Olympics in future.
Ardha Srinivas Patel
Media & Communication Professional