Ukhrul: 17-year-old Solan Jajo from Royal Gymnasium Ukhrul is all set to represent Manipur in Junior Women’s Fitness in the upcoming Junior Mr India to be held on February 22-23rd, 2022 in Pondicherry.
She is the daughter of Barnabas Jajo and Bernice Jajo, a social worker and a housewife from Leishi village. Born in a family of four siblings, Solan is the eldest daughter currently studying in Alice Christian Higher Secondary school in the 12th standard.
Solan Jajo is breaking grounds in the world of fitness having been directly selected as a national player to represent Manipur. She is the only girl from Manipur selected in the trial selection organized by the All Manipur Body Builders Association (AMBBA) which was held on January 16 at Khuman Lampak, Imphal.
Altogether, 34 players from 19 different Gymnasiums in Manipur participated in the trial selection out of which 11 Athletes have been selected to represent team Manipur in their respective categories. Besides the weight category, the competition features three other categories viz: Masters (50-60 yrs), Physically Challenged, and the Junior Women’s Sports Model Physique.
Women’s fitness in sports physique is judged by the ‘T-walk’, the quadrat turn, skin and muscle tone, slimness and healthy appearance. It is said that the toughest competitors out of the 28 States would be from Delhi, Kerala Mumbai and Manipur.
Junior Mr India is recognised by South East Asian games and is under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Solan Jajo, the lone female to represent Manipur is training under Robert L. Meitei, president of the internationally recognized, Royal Gymnasium Ukhrul. The Gym had in the past years produced two other girls who were able to secure the top 5 at the national level.
Speaking to Ukhrul Times, Solan Jajo told, “It’s even beyond my wildest dreams. I never thought that I’d be standing here on this stage representing Manipur. I was super nervous and intimidated as it was my first time participating in such a big event but Sir Robert was there every step of the way. He gave me encouragement and the confidence boost that I needed badly. When I initially started going to the gym back in November 2020 that ended after two months, I never thought I’d come back. I’d often heard about such competitions and events being held and we were even notified about such but initially as I wasn’t interested I didn’t pay much attention. As I rejoined my fitness journey in the same gym in 2021, I started to notice some big improvements in my physique. My interest started to grow when I saw Sir Robert prepping the athletes, seeing their commitment as a team and the extra hours they put in after-hours for the competition. I can only say, I was inspired. I asked around and approached Sir Robert, which lead me in the right direction. Even the senior athletes who were also my gym mates guided me and told me their experience about their inspiring fitness journey. From this point, I was hooked to fitness training. I have been training under Sir Robert ever since. It’s such a big honor for me and I am forever grateful that I got to train under him”.
Perhaps the biggest and the most important factor for her in her fitness journey would be her parents who supported her in every way, believing in her dreams and ambitions which fueled her motivation.
In a world of male-dominated area of sports, when asked about the struggle and the stereotypical attitude towards a 17-year-old girl to be part of such competition, Solan told that she always kept a deaf ear to what the society has to say about her and instead, focus on the constructive comments, especially from her family. “I’m also busy balancing focus on both studies and fitness,” she added.
Solan’s mother, Bernice Jajo told, “Initially I didn’t know how to react when she approached me with the idea of participating in the competition. My first thought was what effect it would have on her studies. I didn’t want her to miss out on her classes and studies too, but as she sat down with me and explained everything in detail, she convinced me and as a parent, I didn’t want to burst her bubble and come between her ambitions. Eventually it dawned on me that education doesn’t only mean the classroom knowledge but all aspects of living”.
Coming from a financially weak family, with her father being the sole breadwinner, a social worker supporting four children, Bernice expressed financial concern over her daughter’s career cutting off to an abrupt end owing to financial reasons. “As of now, the family is the only financial backbone of her career and she has not received any aid from the government till now,” Bernice told.
“I am all into whatever she sets her mind to and as parents, she has our fullest support in everything. However at times, we feel that we might not be able to support her financially as we don’t have the financial security that comes with stable jobs and asking her to give up on her dreams due to our financial incapability would be the last thing we would ever want for her. But despite all that, we will try our best to always support her in everything as long as we can with all we have,” added her mother.
Women’s fitness and sports physique and bodybuilding itself despite being a new area of games and sports in Ukhrul, the Royal Gymnasium under Robert L. Meitei has pushed the momentum and have become the powerhouse of Ukhrul having produced athletes to represent in international cups and federation cups. In the recently concluded 59th Mr Manipur, contestants from Royal Gymnasium bagged home 7 medals and in women’s fitness, Solimla Jajo from Royal Gymnasium secured 5th place in the Ms Federation Cup 2021 and Ms Manipur 2019. Apart from these, the gym has many other success stories to tell.
On recognition of the Gymnasium, L. Robert stressed the inactivity of District Youth Affairs and Sports Officer (DYASO), which he said is the right department from the government responsible to spread the word and also aid her in her struggles, either financially or morally. “Solan Jajo, a daughter from Ukhrul, the sole athlete selected for Women’s Fitness to represent Manipur, is a national athlete now. She should get the recognition, the praise, and the appreciation she deserve. This is a very big deal!” said Robert.
Calling out the MLA’s and the intending candidates, Robert and vice president, Royal Gymnasium, Reisang Zingkhai stressed that the MLA’s although busy with political agendas and elections should not and must not disregard the importance of their self-importance and their capabilities to help and show their appreciation financially or morally as it would mean the world to the athletes. He further requested to do the same to the Longnaos, the students unions and other apex bodies to come together and help contribute financially as a gesture of support.
“In Imphal and valley areas, the government and the civil bodies have a close tie with the sports association and work proactively to spread awareness and in glorious cases such as today, the players are lifted to the highest platform of appreciation. This way, the athletes are ten times more motivated. Such should be emulated in Ukhrul as well and I hope the MLA’s and the apex civil bodies would rise to the occasion. She is a gem of Ukhrul!” said Reisang.
Ukhrul times wishes her all the best.