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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Tokyo 2020: Mirabai Chanu returns home to hero’s welcome

Mirabai Chanu was seen hugging her mother Saikhom Ongbi Tombi Leima and her father Saikhom Kriti Meitei with tears rolling down her face at Imphal’s Bir Tikendrajit International Airport.

Written by Jimmy Leivon | Imphal |
Updated: July 28, 2021 7:36:08 am
Mirabai Chanu, Mirabai Chanu mother, Mirabai Chanu emotional, Mirabai Chanu emotional, Mirabai Chanu celebration, Mirabai Chanu Tokyo Olympics silver medalNirabai Chanu, who won the silver medal in Tokyo Olympics, prepares to leave in a car after arriving at the airport in New Delhi. (AP)

“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.

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.

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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