Imphal Times had the privilege of engaging in a brief yet insightful conversation with Naorem Roshibina Devi, who clinched a remarkable Silver Medal for India in the women’s 60kg Wushu Sanda event at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, China. This achievement has been further acknowledged with the prestigious Arjuna Award 2023, the second-highest athletic honour in India.
Roshibina’s remarkable feat adds to her previous accolades, including a bronze medal in the 2018 edition of the Asian Games held in Jakarta. Her consistent success in Wushu Sanda serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring athletes in Manipur and the entire nation.
The conversation shed light on Roshibina’s dedication and hard work, emphasizing her significant contributions to the field of Wushu. Her recent accomplishments not only bring pride to the nation but also stand as a testament to her prowess in the sport.
As Roshibina continues to make strides in her Wushu career, she emerges as a role model for future generations, showcasing the potential for excellence in sports from the state of Manipur. Her Silver Medal at the Asian Games 2023 and the subsequent recognition with the Arjuna Award mark yet another chapter in her impressive journey and serve as a source of inspiration for athletes across the country.
IMPHAL TIMES (IT): Roshibina, could you share details about your place of birth and upbringing, including your parents’ names and the number of siblings you have?
Roshibina: I hail from Kwasiphai Mayai Leikai in Bishnupur District. My father name is Naorem Damu, and my mother is Naorem Romila. We are a family of three siblings—I have an older sister and a younger brother. Both of them are currently pursuing their education, while I am the sole member of the family in the field of sports.
IT: Can you let us know about your father’s occupation?
Roshibina: My father works as a farmer, and my mother actively assists him in his agricultural activities.
IT: Roshibina, could you share details about your educational background and the institutions where you pursued your schooling?
Roshibina: Currently, I am in my second year of graduation at CI College, Bishnupur. For my school education, I attended SI Academy in Porompat and completed my Higher Secondary School at Little Rose Higher Secondary School.
IT: Roshibina, could you provide some insight into your journey in the sport of Wushu, including when you started and the coach who has been guiding you?
Roshibina: I initiated my Wushu journey in 2012 when I joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI). It was there that I had the privilege of being under the guidance of Coach Premkumar, who played a crucial role in helping and mentoring me to reach the level I am at today.
IT: Roshibina, could you elaborate on the challenges and hurdles you encountered throughout your journey in Wushu, leading up to being honored with the Arjuna Award?
Roshibina: The path to achieving this recognition wasn’t a short-term endeavor; it’s the result of a decade of persistent effort, unwavering dedication, and crucial planning by my coach, Premkumar. Over the years, I faced financial constraints and encountered various minor obstacles. My Wushu journey began at SAI, where I was fortunate to receive comprehensive support, including equipment and a proper diet.
The key to success in this journey lies in adhering to a disciplined routine encompassing sleep, diet, and rigorous training. The stringent guidance of my coach played a pivotal role in shaping my achievements and who I am today.
IT: Can you provide insights into whether there are sponsors or government assistance available to cover the expenses associated with participating in international events?
Roshibina: In the past, the government used to reimburse 50% of the expenses incurred for such events. Unfortunately, due to the division of the Manipur Wushu Federation into two entities, this support has been discontinued. As a result, the financial burden on players has increased, posing significant challenges for Wushu athletes in the state. I would like to appeal to the relevant authorities to address this issue promptly and find a resolution, relieving the difficulties faced by Wushu players in Manipur.
IT: Roshibina, following your recent achievement in the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, could you share information about any upcoming tournaments, both in India and abroad?
Roshibina: I am scheduled to participate in the Sanda World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, which is set to take place in November 2024. Additionally, there is the Asian Championship in Macau, China, on the horizon. While on my way to New Delhi to receive the Arjuna Award, I plan to undergo a checkup. If my recovery is swift, I am also considering participating in the Moscow International Wushu event, scheduled for February 2024.
IT: Could you share if there was any support or assistance from individuals or organizations in facilitating your participation in international events, such as the recent Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou?
Roshibina: After my participation in the Asian Games 2023, Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, extended his encouragement and congratulations, along with the assurance of a suitable job, for which I am sincerely grateful. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Pabung Biren. Additionally, MP RK Ranjan played a crucial role in obtaining a visa for my participation in the World Championship in the USA, where I secured a Silver medal. Minister Konthoujam Govindas and Ashnikumar felicitated me upon my return to Manipur, providing further motivation for a promising future. I would also like to acknowledge the support from the people of Manipur, SAI Imphal, coaches, and instructors for their continuous backing and encouragement, propelling me to achieve more in the future. The immense joy I feel when my fellow Meitei community expresses pride in my achievements motivates me to strive for even greater accomplishments in the future.
IT: There have been reports of challenges in obtaining a Visa for the World Championship held in the USA. Could you provide more details on this?
Roshibina: Indeed, acquiring a visa for the USA was known to be a complex and time-consuming process. When I applied for the visa in 2023, the scheduled appointment date was considerably later, jeopardizing my participation in the championship. Thankfully, MP RK Ranjan intervened and played a pivotal role in expediting the visa appointment, ensuring that I could participate in the championship. I attended the visa interview in the morning, received my passport in the afternoon, and departed for the USA later that same day. Upon reaching the US, I immediately proceeded to the event venue, where I underwent weight measurement, quickly donned my attire and equipment, and participated in the event without any moments of rest.
IT: Considering that Wushu is relatively new in Manipur and still in its infancy, what are your thoughts on the potential growth of the sport in the state in the coming years?
Roshibina: I am optimistic that, with hard work and dedication, Manipur will secure its place in the international arena. Moreover, Wushu is particularly well-suited to the players of Manipur, and I believe it holds great potential for growth and recognition in the state in the years to come.
IT: What suggestions would you offer to foster the development of more talents like yourself in the state?
Roshibina: My primary suggestion would be to address the issue of having two Wushu Associations in the state, as it causes considerable problems and disruptions for the players. Once this matter is resolved, and the players can work hard in a harmonious environment, I believe we can witness the emergence of more players achieving even greater success than myself.
IT: Is there any message you would like to share with the aspiring Wushu players in the state, considering you have become an inspiration for many?
Roshibina: My message to budding Wushu players is to persevere with unwavering dedication, following your coach’s guidance and instructions. Hard work, discipline, and commitment are key elements in this journey. Lastly, I’d like to emphasize the importance of planting the seeds of diligence today, for they will bear the fruits of prosperity tomorrow.
IT: Lastly, In light of the current unrest in the state, can you shed light on the effects and challenges faced by you as a sportsperson?
Roshibina: The ongoing unrest in the state has taken a toll on us mentally. We find ourselves in a dilemma, torn between the need to defend ourselves from the uncertainties of the situation and the desire to focus on our sports endeavours to bring honour to our country. I would like to earnestly appeal to the relevant authorities to address and resolve the current issues promptly.