5 from Manipur in a squad of 127 Two out of five, so far
Giving a new meaning to the understanding of medal haul or podium finish at the biggest sporting bonanza in the world and Manipur has shown this to the rest of the country at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, 2020. Manipur’s presence on the sports map of the country was clear from the moment it was announced that five from the State had qualified to represent the country at the Olympics and this is no mean feat by any standard. Five from a State with just about 30 lakh population and this means 3.94 percent of the 127 athletes representing the country at the biggest sporting bonanza in the world are from Manipur. Top this off with the fact that of the five medals won so far by India at Tokyo, athletes from Manipur have brought home two of the medals. And another one missed it by the whisker when the Indian women hockey team went down fighting against Great Britain in the Bronze play off. A strong statement that the five athletes from Manipur were not just participants but had gone to Tokyo with a purpose in mind and that was to be among the podium finishers. Mirabai Chanu (Silver), Shanglakpam Nilakanta Sharma (Bronze and men’s hockey), Mary Kom (Boxer and Bronze winner at London, 2012 Olympics), Likmabam Shushila Devi (Judo) and Pukhrambam Shushila Chanu (Women’s Hockey), have shown that they were not just participants at the Olympics but were there to fire the imagination and take the understanding of taking part in such a big platform as the Olympics one or two notches higher. A lesson which should be included in the sporting curriculum across the country and a point which should be digested by everyone who believes in excelling in what one does. This is a lesson that can be learnt from the great performances of the five athletes. Just qualifying for the Olympics is not enough is a point which they have delivered and this should add to the beauty of the biggest sporting event in the world.
Medals from two athletes of the five from Manipur and if this reality had reflected on the 127 strong contingent from India, then the medal count would have been much more than the 5 that the country has won so far won at Tokyo. And it is not only at the Olympics that the sporting prowess of the youngsters of Manipur has come to the fore. It is this spirit to excel and become one of the top that can be seen in the number of players from Manipur plying their trade in different clubs in the Indian Super League and Indian League. Look at any of the top notch football club in the country and none will be complete without players from Manipur. Look at the World Boxing Championship and apart from Mary Kom, Manipur has Laishram Sarita right up there rubbing shoulders with some of the most famous women pugilists across the world. Look at weight lifting and many world class lifters have preceded Mirabai Chanu, the most prominent being Nameirakpam Kunjarani, Thingbaijam Sanamacha Chanu, L Anita Chanu etc. Mirabai Chanu has won the Silver at the ongoing Olympics, but it is important for all to remember that sportspersons from Manipur have been making their presence felt at different platforms down the years and the five out of 127 players from India at Tokyo should be seen in this perspective.