Manipur crisis spurred Sarita to Asian C`ship gold

The turmoil in Manipur played on L Sarita Devi`s mind as she fought for a fourth successive gold at the Asian Championships.

Last Updated: Jun 01, 2010, 13:37 PM IST

New Delhi: The turmoil in Manipur played on L Sarita Devi`s mind as she fought for a fourth successive gold at the Asian Championships and the fly weight boxer today
dedicated her medal to the crisis-ridden state hoping that
peace would return there soon.

Part of the Indian team that won two gold, a silver and
five bronze medals to finish fourth in the championship, the
former world champion returned from Astana (Kazakhstan) late
last night.

Sarita said even while she was preparing for the event in
a Bhopal camp, Manipur occupied her thoughts.

Manipur is facing a crisis of essential goods after Nagas
blocked the National Highways due to the Manipuris` refusal to
let the National Socialist Council of Nagaland leader
Thuingaleng Muivah visit his ancestral village in Ukhrul.

"What goes on in my state hardly ever makes news. It
hurts to see the plight of people there. Schools have been
closed for so long. Essential items have become a luxury, a
simple gas cylinder is costing over Rs 1,000.

"Why can`t we just forget about ethnic identities and
realise that we are human beings first?" Sarita said in an
interview.

"Even at the Championship, I was constantly thinking
about what would be going on there. Then I thought, I have to
win it for my state. In Manipur, people appreciate sporting
achievements and I hope my medal has made them happy... even
if it`s just for a few moments," she said.

"God has made us the same, I wonder when we would realise
this."

The 27-year-old former Taekwando player took up boxing
after watching a bout featuring Asian Games gold medallist
Dingko Singh in 1999.

"Dingko is an icon in North east. People are crazy about
him. I saw him just a few months after he won the gold in the
Asian Games and I felt like, I have to be like him. The boxing
bug bit me only after I saw him," she revealed.

"I have been such a huge fan of him that when I met him
for the first time, I gave him a card. It was a big moment for
me at that time," she said.

"I also like Laila Ali (the boxer daughter of the
legendary Muhammad Ali)," she added.

Apart from these inspirations, Sarita said she also had
to fulfill her late father`s wish.

"My father introduced me to Taekwando and he wanted to
see me as a successful sportperson. I took up boxing after his
death and my family supported me despite the fact that we were
a big family with limited means," she said.

Sarita has now set her sights on a medal at the London
Olympics.

"I want to win a medal there because it would be the
biggest moment of my career," she said.

PTI