Strife pushes sport out of mind of top athletes
In August last year, Likmabam Shushila Devi became the first judoka from India to bag multiple medals (both silver) at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
CHENNAI: In August last year, Likmabam Shushila Devi became the first judoka from India to bag multiple medals (both silver) at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. A year before that, she was the lone judoka from the country at the Tokyo Olympics. With big events like 2024 Paris Olympics lined up for the next couple of years, the 28-year-old should ideally be training. However, she is shuttling between home and a relief camp sheltering around 400 displaced people in her village Heingang Mayai Leikai, Imphal East (Manipur).
Sport is not even on her mind right now. “How can we think of sports now? There are people here whose houses were burnt in front of them and their relatives killed. Hundreds of them have taken refuge in camps. It’s been a month since the ordeal,” Shushila told this daily.
The relief camp set up at a community hall of a sports club has pregnant women and newborns. “Around 100 people sleep in a hall with hardly one fan in the heat. The summer means acute water shortage too. Somehow we are managing by donating foodgrain and helping them cook. But how long will it continue as even we will run out of stock someday,” said the judoka.
Another issue players are facing is lack of training. All the sports centres are shut. Bem Bem Devi, who went to meet Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday along with stars like Sarita Devi and Kunjarani Devi, said the situation is hurting athletes. “It is saddening because no sporting activity is going on. The Asian Games is coming up and preparation of every athlete here has been disrupted.”