Manipur – Home to number of Indian Olympians

Manipur – Home to number of Indian Olympians

A relatively small northeastern state with a population little above twenty five lakhs, Manipur has produced many renowned athletes as well Olympians. The most recent example is Mirabai Chanu, silver medalist in weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

There are several reasons due to which Manipur produces many Olympians. The state has a very strong sporting culture. Amarjit Singh Kiyam, captain of Indian team at FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 said “Everyone loves sports in Manipur, be it football, hockey, boxing or wrestling”. National footballer Gurmangi Singh said “There are no malls and multiplexes, so sports remains the primary source of entertainment.” and this is the reason why around 20 thousand people came up for a friendly match at Imphal which itself resides a population of 2.5 lakhs.

The sporting culture of Manipur is supported by the community clubs. These community clubs get huge amount of support from the people. And these community clubs are run by volunteers. Dr. R.K. Nimai Singh, former Commissioner of sports and youth affairs for Manipur, says the spirit of volunteering in the people of Manipur is a result of a pre-colonial tradition known as ‘lallup’. As per this tradition of the monarchy of Manipur, every man aged between 17 to 60 had to voluntarily work for the state for a few days each year. Although this tradition was exploited during the colonial period, still the spirit of volunteering remained a part of Manipuri heritage even after independence. Journalist Dipanjan Sinha wrote “Local clubs are started, run and funded by local communities”. Sportspersons and former players also extend their support to such clubs from funding to donating equipment or subsidizing the meals.

Another factor is the body type of people from Manipur which gives them advantage in various sports including boxing, weightlifting and football. Dangmei Grace, Indian Women’s National Football team says “Our body structure is quite different from other players. Our ability and speed are very good”. The key factor of their body structure is low center of gravity. Most popular example of such structure is Lionel Messi. Low center of gravity is useful especially for weightlifting due to which women from Manipur are efficient with heavy weights. Anita Chanu, former weightlifting champion and coach says the average Manipuri has the right built for weightlifting-“short but with good muscle mass”. For example Hidilyn Diaz the recent gold medalist in weightlifting from Philippines has a height of 4 feet 11 inches and Mirabai Chanu too is of the same height. And this low center of gravity can partly explain the Chinese domination in weightlifting.

Having many advantages doesn’t make success at national and international level easy. Sponsorship is still a struggle for the sportspersons of Manipur which leads them to go for other professions for financial stability. Politics also affects the game negatively. The insurgency of Manipur highlighted in the national and international media prevents foreigners etc. from lending their support. But Dr. R.K. Niami Singh said that the sporting culture of Manipur is so strong that even insurgents won’t interfere with a player or a game. And this is the main reason of sportsperson’s successes at events like the Olympics.

Mirabai Chanu: India’s Newest Olympic Medalist

On the 24th of July, 2021, history was made at the Tokyo International Forum. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu just won India her first medal in the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the category of Weightlifting in Women’s 49 kg by claiming the silver medal and earning India it’s highest and second medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleswari’s bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was born on the 8th of August, 1994 at Nongpok Kakching. It is a village around 30 kms to the east of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. She belongs to the Meitei, an ethnic group of people who are native of Manipur. Her family consists of her parents and five other siblings; three sisters and two brothers. Her father is a government employee contracted with the publics work department, while her mother sells samosas. Out of all their children, Mirabai was the only child who decided to pursue sports as a profession. Her athletic prowess came to light in her early childhood. According to her mother, a young Mirabai, then in class 6 had told her that she would one day play in the Khuman Lampak Stadium While Mirabai initially wanted to pursue archery, she was unable to do so due to her lack of height (Mirabai Chanu is 4”11). Her weightlifting prowess was known since her early childhood, as a twelve-year-old Mirabai had no difficulty in lifting and carrying weights which even her elder brother had difficulty in trying to pick up. This weightlifting prowess of her inspired her to take up the sport of weightlifting.

Mirabai Chanu with her family
Mirabai Chanu with her family

Mirabai’s first major win in her career as a weightlifter came in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She competed in the Women’s 48 kg category and won the silver medal. While Mirabai qualified for and competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, she was unsuccessful in her endeavor. However, she made a stunning comeback from that defeat the next year in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in the Women’s 48 kg category. She won two medals: Gold and Silver. Mirabai won Gold by lifting 109 kg in Clean and Jerk and Silver by lifting 85 kg in Snatch. Her total lifting of lifting 194 kg in total created a record.

Mirabai winning Gold at the  2017 World Weightlifting Championships
Mirabai winning Gold at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships

In the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Mirabai won the first medal with a Gold medal by lifting a total of 196 kg; 110 kg in Clean and Jerk and 85 kg in Snatch. This set a new record for the Commonwealth Games in her weight category. In the 2019 World Weightlifting Championship, Mirabai set a new national record in Women’s 49 kg by lifting a total of 201 kg (87 kg Snatch and 114 kg Clean and Jerk). On the 17th of April 2021, at the 2020 Asian Weightlifting Championship, she set a new world record for Clean and Jerk by lifting 119 kg. She won a bronze medal here. By June 2021, she was second in the rankings for Women’s 49 kg and was the only Indian weightlifter who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mirabai's Gold medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
Mirabai’s Gold medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

On the 24th of July 2021, Mirabai won the Silver medal in the Women’s 49 kg category by lifting 202 kg and created history. She succeeded Karnam Malleswari as the second Indian woman weightlifter to win an Olympic medal. Mirabai holds the honor of winning the highest medal in the weightlifting category in the Olympics that India has ever won. She also set a new Olympic record in the Clean and Jerk category by lifting 115 kg.

Mirabai's historical Silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mirabai’s historical Silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Mirabai has stated that her triumph at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is a ‘dream come true’ for her.



The Tokyo Olympics will kick off on Friday, July 23, with the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

The opening event will be at 8 p.m. local time in Japan, which will be 7 a.m. ET in the United States. NBC will broadcast the entire live opening event, which will be broadcast from 6:55 a.m. ET.

Will there be public at the Olympics:

At this point, it seems impossible.

Olympic organizers announced this spring that international fans would not be allowed to attend the Tokyo Games this summer, while leaving open the possibility that more Japanese spectators could still come. But given the situation with COVID-19 in Japan, organizers may decide to hold the Olympics in secret.

An official decision by local fans is expected in June.

“There are a lot of people who say that at the Olympic Games we have to run away from the audience, even though some games are open to spectators,” said Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

“So we need to keep this in mind. We need to avoid having local medical services affected. We need to look at those things before agreeing on the number of spectators.”


Most summer Olympics will cover 17 days, from the opening ceremony on July 23 to the closing ceremony on Sunday, August 8. (A number of baseball, softball and soccer games are expected to be held on July 21 and July 22.)

In total, the Tokyo Games will have 339 events in all 33 matches.

Some of the most popular events will open the competition just after the opening event. Swimming races will run from July 24 to August 1. The finals of the Gymnastics team will be on July 26 (men) and July 27 (women), with the surrounding competitions and each subsequent events. And the track and field competition will begin on July 30.


Olympic games

International Olympics Day is observed on June 23 per annum to celebrate sports and health. The day aims at promoting sports and spreads the message of constructing sports as a vital part of life. The creation of the modern-day Olympic Games is inspired by the traditional Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece. In 1894, the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and laid the inspiration for the Olympic Games. Olympic games have a history of about twenty hundred years. There were first played near mount Olympus in Greece in 778 B.C. in honor of the Greek god Zeus. The Olympic Games were revived in 1894 by the effort of a French nobleman, Pierre-de-Coubertin. Olympics were held in (Greece) in 1894. From then onwards the modern Olympic games are being held once every four years. There was a break, however, during the period of world war-1 and world war-2. The 20th Olympics were held in 1972 in Germany. Later Olympics were held in Montreal, Moscow, Los angles, Seoul and Barcelona. The 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta. The  2000 Olympics had held in Sydney, Australia. In 1947, Doctor Gruss, a world Olympic member in Czechoslovakia, presented a report within the 41st Session of the International Olympic Committee in Stockholm and proposed to look at every day to celebrate Olympic Day. One year later in 1948, the organizing committee finally decided on June 23 because of the International Olympic Day to honor the International Olympic Committee’s foundation at the Sorbonne, Paris. The first Olympic Day was celebrated within the year 1948. The day was proposed to push the Olympic idea and encourage more and more participation within the games.
World Olympic Day of 2021: What is the Significance & Theme of that day?
The day is well known to encourage more people to participate in the Olympic Games and spread awareness about the event and promote the Olympic Movement. The main concept is to move, learn and discover concerning no age, sports background, or sporting ability. In some countries, the event is incorporated into the varsity curriculum, while many NOCs have included concerts and exhibitions as an element of the Olympic day in recent years. Recent NOC activities also included meetings for youngsters and kids with top athletes making it easier for people to become a part of Olympic Day. The theme for this year is to remain healthy, stay strong, stay active with the OlympicDay workout on 23 June.

Olympic games attract all the athletes from different parts of the countries, all over the world. It shows the symbol of international friendship and brotherhood. The Olympic symbol consists of 5 rings or circles linked together. The five rings represent five different continents –Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. The linking represents unity. The five rings are of different colors. They are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The torch is first lit at Olympus in Greece and then taken to the place of meeting by relay runners.

In modern times, the winners are awarded medals and certificates with recognition for those who won first, are awarded gold medals. Those who second and third are awarded silver medals and bronze medals. Competitions are held generally in the following games and sports:

(1)Archery, (2) athletics, (3) badminton, (4) baseball, (5) basketball, (6) boxing (7) canoeing, (8) cycling(9) equestrian sports, (10) fencing, (11) football, (12) gymnastics, (13) handball,  (14) hockey, (15) judo, (16) modern pentathlon, (17) rowing, (18) shooting, (19) swimming, (20) table tennis, (21) tennis, (22) volleyball, (23) weightlifting, (24) wrestling and yachting.