CHENNAI: Naorem Roshibina Devi might have assured the country of a bronze by entering the women's 60kg wushu (Sanda) semifinal in Hangzhou, China on Monday but not everyone knows the hardships the Manipur athlete had to undergo before securing her second straight Asian Games medal. Recalling the hard times her family endured recently, she said she would be in tears quite often.
"The internet was shut down. It was difficult to contact them. The situation was bad and I was worried about the safety of my parents and siblings. Whenever we talked, we used to cry a lot. My father is a farmer but could not go out to till his land because of the grim situation. This also meant our income dried up but my family including my mother Naorem Romila Devi and younger brother Naorem Prioijit Singh never shared their problems with me. They wanted me to focus on my game. Even my coach Maibam Premkumar Singh made sure I do not suffer because of the financial constraints and extended every possible support so that I can pursue my dream," Roshibina, who hails from Kwasiphai Mayai Leikai in Bishnupur district, told this daily from Hangzhou.
She also recalled how her father had to sell a piece of their land to fund her travel from Srinagar to Imphal so that she could meet her family. However, because of the tense situation back home, she could not go to her village. "I spent around Rs 40,000 during that period including the air travel from Srinagar to Imphal and then from Imphal to Patiala, where the national camp was held before we flew to Hangzhou. I could not visit my village and stayed at the SAI Centre in Imphal for almost a fortnight. He (father) came to meet me at the SAI centre where I was training with my coach. He didn't tell me that he had sold the land to arrange funds for me to travel to Manipur. Later, my elder sister Naorem Roshni Devi informed me about it and advised me to give my best," said Roshibina, who is currently without a job. Despite getting job offers in the past, the 23-year-old refused as she wanted to stay close to her parents in her home state.
On the day, Roshibina outplayed Aiman Karshyga of Kazakhstan convincingly in the quarterfinal through points difference to storm into the semifinal. "I won bronze in the last edition but now want to enter the final and win gold for the country. My next bout is on Wednesday and I will give my best there to make sure I change the colour of the medal."
Besides Roshibina, Surya Bhanu Partap Singh reached the quarterfinals after winning his bout against Islombek Khaydarov of Uzbekistan in the Sanda 60kg category in the men's section. Like Roshibina, he had also won a bronze medal in the 2018 edition. In the men's final bout of the day in the 65 kg category, Vikrant Baliyan was knocked out in the pre-quarters by Samuel Marbun of Indonesia by a 1-2 margin.
India's wushu campaign at the Games had already taken a big hit when three athletes from Arunachal Pradesh were not granted visas by the hosts. Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu were the athletes who were refused entry by China. This also made the Union Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur, to cancel his scheduled visit to China on Friday even as the government went on to lodge a protest with the host country.