From riot torn Manipur village, Roshibina wins silver in Asian Games

IANS Photo

Imphal, September 30 (IANS) Three Wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh missed the opportunity to participate in the ongoing 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou as China did not provide them the visas, however, Naorem Roshibina Devi -- from ethnic riot ravaged Manipur managed to win the silver medal in women’s 60-kg Sanda final.

An eight-member Indian contingent participated in Wushu at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Naorem Roshibina Devi was India's only medal winner in the sport. She dedicated her silver medal to the people of her crisis-ridden home state.

Roshibina lost to home favourite Wu Xiaowei of China 0-2 in the final.

The 22-year-old, who won bronze in the same event at the 18th Asian Games in 2018 in Jakarta, promised to win gold in the 20th Asian Games scheduled to be held in Tokyo (Japan) in 2026.

Fifteen years ago, at Kwakshiphai, a nondescript village in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, a little girl spent her free time punching and kicking at an improvised punching bag she made at her residence, paving way to learn Wushu at Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre in Manipur capital Imphal.

Roshibina had hoped to script history by clinching India’s first gold in Wushu at the Asian Games after her terrific performance at the semi finals defeating Vietnam’s Thi Thu Thuy Ngyugen 2-0, needing only two rounds of two minutes each.

“I’m happy about my performance, but I could have been happier if I would have been the champion and also if the situation in my home state was resolved,” said the talented and aggressive Sanda fighter while talking to the media after the final bout on Thursday (September 28).

She said that she will aim for gold in the 2026 Asian Games scheduled to be held in Tokyo.

Despite her state facing a violent ethnic riot for around five months, Roshibina managed to change the color of medal she won at Jakarta Asiad in 2018 from bronze to silver this time.

“For all of us in our small family and village, we are all happy as my daughter bagged a silver medal. But she (Roshibina) was expecting a gold in the final match,” Naorem Damu Singh, father of Roshibina said.

Soon after he heard about his daughter’s achievement, he managed to call her on WhatsApp from a house where the internet is accessible, said Damu, an ordinary farmer.

He said: “During our short conversation, my daughter was not happy as she said she was expecting a gold medal. I, however, asked her not to lose heart, and encouraged her to grab first position in the upcoming international competition.”

Damu said that her daughter has already been selected to compete for an international Wushu championship to be held in the USA in November this year.

Apart from the Asian games medals, Roshibina also won a gold medal in Junior Wushu World Championship held in Bulgaria in 2017, gold in South Asian Games (Kathmandu) in 2019 and two similar medals in Moscow Wushu Stars this year.

Recapitulating Roshibina’s deep passion for Wushu, Damu said when she was just seven or eight years old she collected tattered clothes and made a punch back which she punched and kicked frantically all the time.

“Noticing her zeal, a Wushu champion Malemnganbi Devi from our locality began teaching her the game. Another Wushu coach, M Ronel Singh from Nachou, our neighboring village also taught her the art of the game for a short period of time,” Damu stated.

Later Roshibina went to SAI training centre in Imphal to get formal Wushu training under its coach M. Premkumar, he said, adding, that she is currently pursuing her BA first year at CI College in Bishnupur district.

On being asked about celebrating Roshibina’s Asian games glory, he said owing to the current ethnic violence “we are not celebrating it much.”

Officials of Manipur Sports and Youth Affairs Department said that a reception, though not in a big way, would be accorded to Roshibina after she returned to Manipur after the end of the Asian games on October 8.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Wednesday (September 27) said three Wushu players from the state, who could not participate in the ongoing Asian Games in China, due to denial of visas by the host country, would be treated as participants of the event as members of the Indian Wushu team and provided with incentives as per the state's sports policy.

Three Wushu players -- Onilu Tega, Nyeman Wangsu and Mepung Lamgu along with Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Mama Natung, their coach Maibam Premchandra Singh, met the Chief Minister on Wednesday.

Acknowledging the fact that the three athletes were the first ones from Arunachal Pradesh ever to qualify for the Asian Games but had to miss the prestigious event for no fault of theirs, Khandu said that they would receive the cash incentive of Rs 20 lakh each in accordance with the state's sports policy for an athlete participating in the Asian Games.

He also said that coach Maibam Premchandra Singh would also receive his share of 10 per cent of the incentives awarded to the athletes.

Interacting with the young Wushu players, Khandu encouraged them to train harder and focus on the 2026 Asian Games scheduled to be held in Tokyo.