Hockey players from Manipur receive grand welcome after historic performances at Asian Games


Imphal: Shanglakpam Nilakanta Sharma, Pukhrambam Sushila Chanu and Kharibam Bichu Devi, the three hockey players from Manipur who were part of the Indian team at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2023, received a warm and grand welcome upon their arrival at Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Imphal on Wednesday.

Family members, friends and enthusiastic hockey fans from the state gathered at the airport and greeted the three hockey players who made the state and the country proud with their historic performance in the biggest tournament of the year.

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“We went for the gold medal, but we won a bronze,” said Sushila Chanu, who scored a goal for the Indian women’s hockey team.

“We tried our best for the gold medal but we couldn’t get the result we desired. However, we take motivation from this to work harder because victory and failure are part of the game,” added Indian team goalkeeper Bichu Devi.

Talking about the ongoing unrest in her home state for the last five months, Sushila said that the team was camping in Bangalore preparing for the Asian Games when the conflict started in May.

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“When the crisis started in Manipur, we were preparing for the Asian Games and we couldn’t do much for the state. But now we come back with medals and hope to help in restoring peace in the state,” said Shushila.

Nilakanta, who was part of the Indian men’s hockey team which won the gold medal at the Asian Games, got emotional not because of the overwhelming homecoming reception but because of the ongoing crisis in the state.

“When we got the Olympic medal, we came back proudly as the sons of Manipur. But it is not the same feeling this time despite winning the gold medal because my state is burning and I am not in a mood to celebrate,” said Nilakanta, the Indian field hockey player.

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He also said that the historic performance at the Asian Games by the Indian men’s hockey team was not attributed to an individual’s contribution but because of the ‘team’s effort.’

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