Updated: July 28, 2021 7:36:08 am
“Long live Mirabai, long live Manipur”. The slogan reverberated the streets of Imphal on Tuesday as Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu made her way to her native village of Nongpok Kakching.
Chanu landed at Imphal’s Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in the afternoon. Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh was there to receive Chanu, as were hundreds of well-wishers and supporters seeking a glimpse of the weightlifter.
From the airport, Chanu was escorted to the city convention centre where she was given a grand reception by the state government. During the felicitation event, Chanu was handed an award of over Rs one crore and an appointment letter to the post of Additional Superintendent of Police (Sports) by the chief minister. The amount was for athletes from the state who win medals at the ongoing Olympics.
This silver medal is even more special because of the love people of India and my state Manipur have shown me. I’m grateful to each and every person who came today to congratulate me and gave me their blessings. pic.twitter.com/f5ltSNqHXo
— Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (@mirabai_chanu) July 27, 2021
After the felicitation, Chanu headed to her native village led by a motorcade of well-wishers, local club members and police. Nongpok Kakching lies on the eastern side of Imphal Valley, about 20 km from the state capital. Despite the ongoing curfew to curb Covid-19, hordes of young and old lined up to cheer Chanu along the way to her village.
Many even attempted to present flowers and garlands only to be prevented by the police citing Covid restrictions.
“I have no words to express how happy I am. The love and support extended to me is overwhelming. Right from the airport till here, your warm welcome has made this day the greatest day of my life,” Chanu said at a gathering in her village.
— Rupin Sharma IPS (@rupin1992) July 27, 2021
At Nongpok Kakching, the villagers organised a reception at a community hall. However, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was limited to the presentation of gifts and congratulatory speeches by village elders.
“One of the driving forces for what I have achieved is my desire to put Manipur on the roadmap of the world. It pains me to learn that people don’t know that a small state like Manipur even exists,” Chanu said.
Asked about her next aim, she said her main focus would be preparing for the next Olympics.
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