Putting India up there on the medal list A Silver from Tokyo
It is Tokyo 2020, but in reality it is 2021 and Manipur certainly is keeping to the spirit of London 2012, the tale of which was scripted by the darling of the media and arguably one of the favourites of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MC Mary Kom. 2020 or 2021, Tokyo it still is and bringing Tokyo closer to Manipur is obviously Mirabai Chanu with a Silver in the 49 Kg weightlifting champion which she won in style on July 24. If it is about London 2012 to Tokyo 2020 for Manipur, then for Indian weightlifting it is a story from 2000 when Karnam Malleswari emerged the only Indian weightlifter to bag a medal at the Sydney Olympics. Congratulatory messages have been flooding in starting from President Ram Nath Kovind to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Chief Minister N Biren, who even had a video chat with the young champion and it did not take long for the social media to be filled with the story of how the Silver medal was won at unarguably the most competitive stage in the world. Her medal winning feat trended on Twitter and in no time her fan following on another popular social media site Instagram ballooned from 42,000 in the morning of July 24 to 3.07 lakh by evening of July 25. With just a medal winning effort from a young girl, Manipur suddenly became a sort of a catchword on every single platform possible, from the newspaper to the television and other sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp etc. For some hours and it may take some more days, Manipur was no longer just a name that school boys and school girls had to know about when they turn to their Geography lessons, but suddenly here was a place which has brought laurels to the country ! ‘Divine Medal’ some may call the Silver for it has come during the coronavirus pandemic when many from the North East region came to be mockingly and disturbingly called corona, especially in the first wave. Add this to the fact that the medal was won at Tokyo, another place of people with oriental features. However during the moment of glory and when Mirabai stood along two others with the same Oriental features, on the victory podium, she was not Chinese or Japanese or any other Oriental looking girl, but an Indian, a young girl representing India at the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world.
It was this sentiment which was reflected in a post laced with sarcasm put up by an undoubtedly witty person under a fictitious name on Facebook, hours after the medal winning feat of the young girl. Manipur has certainly etched a name for itself on the sporting annals of the country and it is not only Mirabai Chanu, for there are others too from the region representing the country at the Tokyo Olympics. Veteran Mary Kom is still there having won her first bout against a much younger opponent, one day after Mirabai won her Silver. The Judoka from Manipur Likmabam Shushila Devi may have crashed out but this is where it will do good for the country and the State to come to the fact that there are other countries which have far better facilities for training in such a sport. Maybe it would help if the National Sports University here in Manipur can concentrate on how to better equip the youngsters in such disciplines. Just the start to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Manipur has already etched her name on the merit chart there and the very fact that a State with some thirty lakh population in a country of 130 crore has been able to send five athletes to the biggest sporting show in the world should tell its own significant story.