From being stranded in Georgia for 9 months to Cadet Worlds gold: Judoka Linthoi's story

She then outpowered her rivals from Poland and France in the next two bouts, once again by Ippon, to storm into the final.

Published: 27th August 2022 11:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2022 11:19 PM   |  A+A-

Linthoi Chanambam won gold in the -57kg weight category on Friday

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The then 14-year-old Linthoi Chanambam was supposed to have a month-long training camp in Georgia before coming back to the country and honing her skills further at the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) in Vijayanagar, Karnataka. Little did she know, the short visit will get prolonged making her stay away from family and friends for almost nine months, and that too in the most difficult times the world has faced in the last 100 years.

"Linthoi along with Jasleen Saini and Tilak Thapa accompanied me to Georgia for a training camp. We left on March 5, 2020, but soon the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world forcing a global lockdown," Mamuka Kizilashvili, Linthoi's Georgian coach, told this daily from Sarajevo.

Given the situation, the coach decided to shift the Indian judokas to his hometown Akhmeta. "It was a difficult time but we decided to make use of the situation and train with whatever resources we had then. I was vice-president of the Georgia Judo Federation before taking up the coach's role with the IIS and that made it easier for me to arrange for a club where these judokas can train," added Mamuka.

After four months with a few relaxations in place, Jasleen decided to return to India by boarding a special flight but Linthoi and Tilak decided to stay back. They returned only in November with the coach accompanying them. The hard work Linthoi put in during those days must have played a role when the Manipur teenager created history and became the first judoka from the country to win a medal at the World Championships (Cadets) on Friday.

Linthoi, daughter of Ibohal Chanambam, who does fish farming in Mayang Imphal, clinched the gold medal in the -57kg weight category at the Sarajevo World Championships Cadets 2022 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

"Being a minor, she couldn't board the flight alone because of existing rules at that time. So, I spoke to her parents and they allowed her to stay in Georgia with my family. We used to train daily in my hometown. The two sessions in a day must have played a part in her development as a judoka," said the coach.
Linthoi won five bouts to finish on top of the podium. She defeated her Georgian rival in the first bout by Ippon and then repeated the show in her next bout outclassing the local judoka. She then outpowered her rivals from Poland and France in the next two bouts, once again by Ippon, to storm into the final. The Indian girl defeated Brazilian Reis Bianca by Waza-ari in the summit clash.
Ippon is a move in which a contestant throws his/her opponent on the mat with considerable force and speed so that he/she lands on his/her back. An ippon is also awarded when a contestant immobilizes his/her opponent with a grappling hold-down for 20 seconds, or when an opponent gives up. A Waza-ari is awarded after an action in which the opponent is thrown with control and accuracy, but not to the extent of an Ippon, or held on the back for between 15 and 20 seconds on the mat.
The duo along with another Indian judoka Ishroop Narang (+70kg) is scheduled to fly back to the country on Sunday. Linthoi and her coach will take a break for a few weeks before returning to the IIS. "I will head home and fly back to India on September 21. Linthoi will join me soon at the institute. We have bigger plans for her and it all depends on how she adapts. She is still 16 and we don't want to rush things. We cannot risk injuries to her. She will gradually graduate to the senior level and if the transition is smooth then we can think about her qualification for the 2024 Olympics. Anyways she has enough time and it will happen sooner than later," signed off the coach.


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