Bring home the medals: Best wishes for the Manipuri Olympians

Five Manipuris, who have given us a reason for our pride, are in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics which starts yesterday. India has sent an 81-athlete team, the highest for the country in the history of the Olympics. From such a small land battered by unending conflicts, it is unsurprising how so many Manipuris could find a place for themselves, given our sporting spirit and skills. Our best gold-medal wishes are with the stars, who will be taking part in this sporting extravaganza. We also pray that they will bring home more laurels and make us more proud.

For the record, the list of our stars includes: Laishram Bombayla (Archery) from KhuraiKhongnang Makhong; Laishram Devendro (Boxing) from Yurembam Awang Leikai; Mary Kom (Boxing) from Samulamlan, Moirang; Ngangbam Soniya Chanu (Weightlifting) from HaoreibiMayai Leikai; and Khadangbam Kothajit (Hockey) from Lairikyengbam Leikai. Of course, we know most of them don’t even need an introduction. And most are them are hopeful for winning a medal each — the more the better, the higher the best.

The Indian flag will rise high every time when one of them delivers the goods. However, there is an overt sense of gunning only for the players who hail from our state. We admit the open support because we appreciate sports and our sportspersons. In our hometown, there is nothing like only a slothful game such as cricket is the most popular game and we have a blind eye towards other sports.

Cricket, for the mainlanders, means everything. A legacy of colonialism in India, cricket is the unofficial national game of India while hockey is just for the name sake. It does speak volume of the typical Indian mindset from cricket to an NRI son-in-law — anything that is foreign bred seems more alluring to most of the Indians. Lamgi sun-na machi shaangba helle ye. Luckily, we from the North East India are game for any type of sport.

Our attitude towards games and sports is far more commendable than to the not-so-fascinating mindset of the country as a whole. This kind of representation, five out of eighty-one in different events, is also our best answer to the question of arrogance from the mainland. We can be damned but we cannot be ignored. We can play, for that matter, any type of sport without any prejudice.

We are typical; we love to eat ngaari and hawaizaar, though it may be surprising to them — we can compete with anyone at the global level. We are not the children of lesser gods. Even if we are neglected because we belong to a frontier of the country, where the military has to rule the roost, we have the guts to stand up on our own and fight in any discipline. India can discriminate us by our looks, though it is regretful many of them, the well-stocked Aryans do bear the brunt of racism on and off, elsewhere in some corners of the globe. And our stars have shown the world what we are made of.

What we eat and how we look do not count, especially in a country where we have to protest for our own nationality, not denying it but to include ourselves in. Yet the sheer discipline and passion in our chosen field determine who we are and what we achieve in life. This is the biggest lesson that our stars have taught us. This is also the same reason why we have more respect for them, why we desperately want them to bring home the medals and more medals.

Again we are extending our heartiest wishes to all the Olympians from the North East region, representing India at the Olympics. We also wish all the budding sportspersons, cutting across caste, caste and creed from the country, to rise and shine in London.

The Manipuri Olympians will always be more special than the others. May they win many laurels and bring glory to the land. Let us glorify them as much as we can. Unleash your Herculean sporting passion and bring home the medals. All the very best to all the Olympians from Kangleipak!

PS: With or without medals, they will always remain our stars. Cheers to them!

This article was published on 29 July 2012
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