Looking back with satisfaction Look forward to 2022
Manipur has every reason to look back with satisfaction at the just concluded Tokyo Olympics, 2020 and the statistics should say it all. With just about 30 lakh population in a Nation of 130 crore people, Manipur did well in having five of her sons and daughters making the cut for the contingent to represent the country in the biggest sporting bonanza in the world. It was not just participation for the five athletes from Manipur as two of them rounded off their participation in the Olympics on the podium. Mirabai Chanu opened the medals tally for the country when she won Silver in weightlifting and Shanglakpam Nilakanta Sharma will be remembered as one of the heroes on the field in reviving the game of Hockey in the country in winning the Bronze medal. Pukhrambam Shushila Chanu too will be remembered for having played her role in reviving people’s interest in women’s Hockey, with the team narrowly missing out on the Bronze when the team went down to Great Britain 3-4 in the play off for the third place. Mary Kom needs no introduction and if women’s boxing is followed in the country, the Gold medal for igniting interest in the game should go to her. Olympic glory she has already tasted, having won the Bronze in the London Olympics of 2012. Judoka Shushila Devi too scripted her own story to put Manipur’s name on India’s Olympic wall and the success stories of the five should not only inspire the younger generation but should also offer new insights to the State Government on how to go about encouraging sports amongst the youngsters. The story of Mirabai Chanu is now well known and so is the story of Mary Kom, but it is also equally important for all to know and draw a lesson or two from the stories of the other three athletes who put Manipur’s name on the roll of Olympics honour in so far as India is concerned.
This is also the time for the country as a whole to realise that their understanding of India will have to move beyond the Brahmaputra and in the process not judge others on the basis of their physical appearance. That the Silver of Mirabai came when the world is under the second wave of the coronavirus could not have been more opportune for remember it was not so long back when people of the North East region were ridiculed and targeted as ‘coronavirus’ just because the virus was first reported from Wuhan in China. The virus of racial profiling, the virus of discriminating on the basis of one’s physical appearance is also an epidemic and remember there is no vaccine for this. This is the time for the country to remember this even as the excellent showing by the girls and boys from the North East region continues to be a part of the story around the Olympics. In 2022, India will again head for the Asian Games and this is the time for the Government and the people concerned to focus on how to continue with the success stories of the sports-persons. That would be the best way to acknowledge the stupendous showing of the five athletes at the just concluded Tokyo Olympics.