Guwahati: 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 her way to learn Wushu at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre in state capital Imphal.
On Thursday, the girl, Naorem Roshibina Devi, clinched a silver medal in the women’s 60-kg Sanda final at the ongoing 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. In the match, Xiaowi Wu of the host country defeated her 2-0.
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 2 rounds of 2 minutes each.
“I am 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 reacting to the media after the final bout. She went on to say she would aim for gold in the next outing.
Nevertheless, Roshibina managed to change the color of medal she won at Jakarta Asian Games 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 today. But Roshibina’s elation did not go to the peak as she was expecting a gold in the final match,” Naorem Damu Singh, father of Roshibina said.
Soon after he heard the news about his daughter, he somehow managed to call her on WhatsApp from a house where the internet is accessible. “During our short conversation, my daughter was not in her highest happiness mood as she said she was expecting a gold medal in the final match. I, however, asked her not to lose heart and encouraged her to grab first position in the upcoming international competitions,” said Singh, an ordinary cultivator.
Roshibina has already been selected to vie for an international Wushu championship to be held in the USA in November this year. Apart from the Asian Games medals she grabbed, Roshibina has also won hordes of laurels, including a gold medal in the Junior Wushu World Championship held in Bulgaria in 2016, another gold in the South Asian Games, Kathmandu in 2019 and two similar medals in ‘Moscow Wushu Stars.”
Recapitulating Roshibina’s deep passion for Wushu, Singh said, “When she was just seven to eight years old, she used to collect tattered clothes and made a punch bag 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. Later Roshibina was sent to the SAI training centre in Imphal to get formal Wushu training under coach M Premkumar. She is currently pursuing her BA first year studies at Chanambam Ibomcha College in her home district Bishnupur.”
On being asked about celebrating Roshibina’s Asian Games glory, Singh said owing to the current ethnic violence they are not going for a fanfare.
“Though we are not directly affected by the ethnic conflict, our village is located not very far from the violence-hit area for which we don’t have peace of mind all the time,” Singh added.
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