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Saikhom Mirabai Chanu accorded a rousing welcome on her homecoming

Hours before her plane touched down at the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport Imphal, people in large number, despite the curfew, thronged the airport. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren himself came to receive her at the airport.

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Imphal: Saikhom Mirabai, silver medalist in weightlifting Tokyo Olympics received a rousing welcome on her arrival at her home state of Manipur Tuesday afternoon. Hours before her plane touched down at the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport Imphal, people in large number, despite the curfew, thronged the airport. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren himself came to receive her at the airport.

She was escorted out by her mother Saikhom Tombi Devi and family members from inside the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport.

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Riding alongside the Chief Minister in his official car, the cavalcade headed for the City Convention in the heart of Imphal city where a reception in her honour was to take place. All along the route, from Malom to Keishampat Junction, thousands lined up cheering her, showering her with flowers, and raising slogans in her praise. Sounds of firecrackers and drum beats filled the air all along the route and the crowd kept growing by the minute. She, on her part, waved and smiled away at the ecstatic crowd, many jostling to catch a glimpse of her.

At the felicitation function, she thanked the people of Manipur for their love and prayers. Acknowledged the sacrifice her family made for her, the immense contribution of her first coach, Anita Chanu, who took her under her wings when Mirabai was barely nine years old, as also other coaches like Brojendro and all those who helped her reach this stage. She also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking out time to personally call her to congratulate her on her winning the silver medal. As for the video call from the state Chief Minister, she said it felt like a dream and she was extremely elated to receive the call.

As announced earlier, Chief Minister N Biren Singh presented her with a check of Rs 1 crore as also the appointment letter, making her an Addl SP (Sports), Manipur Police Department. She was also handed over a check of Rs 10 lakh by the Youth Affairs& Sports Minister Letpao Haokip for creating a world record in clean and jerk. The Education Minister also presented her a check of Rs 3 lakh during the felicitation function.

N Biren Singh said Mirabai Chanu’s triumph bears witness to the value of hard work and sincerity. Expressing hope that Mirabai Chanu would continue working hard to achieve more success in future Games as well, the Chief Minister observed that her Silver Medal at Tokyo Olympics should be the stepping stone of more other milestones. He also asked her to work harder till she secures Olympic Gold Medal.

Stating that turnout of well-wishers could be more massive and the celebration could have been more grandeur had there been not curfew due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Minister said that another grand reception in honour of all the five athletes of Tokyo Olympics of the State would be organized by the Government when COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

The Chief Minister also announced that the State Government would begin a scheme to provide annual financial grants to the associations of the Olympic sports disciplines. He also added that a weightlifting academy with all necessary amenities would be set up in the State very soon so as to groom many future Olympians.

YAS Minister Letpao Haokip said that Mirabai’s success has once again testified to the world that Manipuris have the potential to stand tall in the world’s biggest sports event against the toughest opponents. It is also an answer to all those who are against the idea of women empowerment, he added. Games and Sports is embedded in Manipuri culture and the State is home to several traditional games, and there is no argument that Manipur is the sports capital of the country as stated by President of India, Shri Ramnath Kovind, Letpao Haokip said.

MLA and President Manipur Olympic Association, Dr Thokchom Radheshyam said that Mirabai Chanu brought laurels to the whole nation by dint of her hard work and determination. Stating that there is no dearth of talents in Manipur, Dr Radheshyam observed that the State should focus on the sports disciplines, which are more suitable to the physique of the State natives.

Later, the Chief Minister along with the Deputy Chief Minister, Ministers and MLAs took Mirabai Chanu to her office located near 2nd MR complex, Ragailong, and ushered her to the seat of the Additional SP (Sports).    

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