Manipuris are starting to find their mark in the game of archery, literally. Although, two times Olympian Laishram Bombayla had been hogging the limelight singly for sometime, two players from the state have made significant progress in their performances and brought laurels for the state this year. The archers, Paonam Lily Chanu and Khuraijam Ratan Kumar, have capped off a wonderful 2013, during which they have trotted the globe, by winning gold medals in their respective categories in the recently concluded 18th Asian Archery Championship hosted at Chinese Taipei. Their senior counterpart Bombayla too had a fairly commendable year with respectable performances winning the World Cup recurve team title at Medellin, Colombia and Wroclaw, Poland, beating mighty Koreans to win the titles.
Hopefully, the fantastic success of the trio can instill phenomenal inspiration to young and upcoming archers, assist them to overcome their bundle of nerves and rule the international circuit. Agreed, the competition at the state level is barely of the highest class technically. But the state has thrown up good players on a random basis. Surreal, as it may sound, many of the barriers in sports are psychological. History is replete with incidents when a standard or feat that is considered beyond the realms of possibilities become an ordinary task after somebody accomplishes it. A constantly shared example is the barrier of 4-minute mile which was considered not merely unreachable but according to physiologists at one time, dangerous to the health of any athlete who attempted to reach it. Roger Bannister crossed the finish line with a time of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds in 1954. Within the next three years, 16 runners had logged the sub-4 minutes miles. In the local context, Ng Dinko Singh’s fists of fury brought a gold medal in the Bangkok Asian Games out of nowhere. What happened in the following years is history. A crop of brilliant pugilists from Manipur inundated the national boxing scenario. Among them was Manipur’s greatest sportsperson, Mary Kom who admittedly was inspired by Dingko’s success.
Incidentally, archery in Manipur is as old as the Manipuri culture itself. Traditionally, it was the bamboo bow and arrow which was in action from time immemorial, be it for battles, hunting or recreational sports. But competitive archery is very expensive as it requires scientific and technologically advanced bows and arrows among others if one has to focus his mind on pursuing the game till international glory. It will be a win-win bet for the association in control of the game in the state to identify, recruit and train young guns in this sport, based on the success achieved by our archers this year.