Manipur has produced four different weightlifters over five Olympics-a generational effort that culminated in Mirabai Saikhom Chanu’s monstrous 202 kg combined lift for the Tokyo Olympics Silver medal in the 49-kg category. Barring the Beijing Games, the state has consistently churned out weightlifting talents that are among the best in the world. It is a reminder that the Olympics are not a once-in-four-year event, but a way of life for the people of Manipur. The rise of Manipuri women in Indian sports has been phenomenal. From weightlifting to boxing to football, Manipur has provided some of the finest sporting talents to the nation over several years.
The terrific supply-line of Manipur sports has also won them two Olympics medals. Let us have a look at the five times when Manipuri women made India proud in sports. The Mangte Chungneijang Marry Kom is an obvious choice as the greatest moment in Manipur sport. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu became the second medalist in weightlifting and only the second Indian woman to win an Olympic silver. Laishram Bombyla is the only woman from Manipur to have competed in the Olympic archery event so far. The Indian-born Bala Devi was given the number ten jersey by the Scottish women’s premier league club “Ranger.” In Manipur, children are encouraged to participate in a wide variety of sports. Consistent physical activity leads to an easier transition than most young athletes when moving professionally into a discipline. Mirabai Chanu’s story trudges along the same line as that of a young 12-year-old child lifting heavy logs in her hometown of Nongpok Kakching who was noticed by Anita Chanu, a former international weightlifter and coach. People from north-eastern India are smaller in height but make up for it with a Maradona and Messi-Esque low centre of gravity. Most athletes in the lower weight categories come from Asian countries like China and South Korea. In Manipur, most people eat rice as a primary source of energy, which is considered a prime source of fuel for essential carbohydrates that end up aiding in physical training.