Since the Olympic Games in 1948 when India participated for the first time as an Independent country, athletes from the North-east have represented and won laurels for the country. So, here is the list of sportspeople from across the region who have made us proud and should not be forgotten. Let’s see how many you can name (and be honest about it)!
1. Mary Kom
Image source: gammanews.com
Nicknamed “Magnificent Mary”, she is one of the greatest Indian sports icon ever. Mary Kom is an Indian boxer who is a five-time World Boxing champion and the only women boxer to have won a medal in each of the six world championships. She was also the only Indian woman to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics and win a bronze medal. She also became the first Indian women boxer to get a gold medal in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea. She may retire after the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.
2. Dr. Talimeren Ao
Image source: dimapur.nic.in
This Naga doctor-footballer led the Indian football team in the 1948 Olympics in London, a year after India won its independence. He was India’s first Football captain and the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent. India reached the quarterfinals but lost to European powerhouse France 1-2, after missing two penalty kicks because they were playing barefoot in the biting cold. This ace footballer from Nagaland also played for Mohan Bagan from 1943 and 1952. Despite of playing such an important part of the Indian Football history, his name has somewhat been forgotten.
3. Dipanker Battacharjee
Image source: telegraphindia.com
He was the first Assamese and the first Indian badminton player to participate in two Olympic Games – Barcelona Olympic (1992) and Atlanta Olympic (1996). He is the only male shuttler from India to have made it to two Olympics. He is also the only senior national badminton champion from the North-east till date.
4. P. NilaKomol Singh
Image source: Indian 1984 Olympic Hockey Team mumbaihockey.org
He is the first Olympian from Manipur. He represented India at the 23rd Olympic Games, Los Angeles, 1984. Nilakomol Singh has also represented India in other international events such as the Four Nation Tournament, Berlin 1984, Asian Games, 1986 and World Cup Tournament, England, 1986.
5. Shiva Thapa
Image source: sportsrediscovered.com
Hailing from Guwahati, Assam, 22-year old Shiva Thapa was the youngest Indian boxer who qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. He is also the youngest Indian to win gold at the Asian Confederation Boxing Championship in Amman, Jordan. Shiva Thapa is a strong contender for India for the 2016 Olympics.
6. Tarundeep Rai
Image source: tribuneindia.com
From Namchi, Sikkim belonging to the Indian Gorkha community, Tarundeep Rai became the first Indian to win an individual men's silver medal in archery at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, 2010. He is also the first Indian to make it to the semi-final round at the World Archery Championship in 2005. He represented India as a member of the Indian recurve team at the 2012 London Olympics.
7. Ngangbam Soniya Chanu
Image source: forofuerza.com
Ngangbam Soniya Chanu, a promising weightlifter from Manipur’s Haoreibi in Imphal West, represented India in the 2012 Summer Olympics in the women’s 48kg category. She is a recipient of Arjuna Award for weightlifting.
8. Bombayal Devi
Image source: hindu.com
Bombayla Devi from Manipur represented India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics in the women’s individual, as well as the team archery events. She became the first woman to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games after a brilliant performance at the 2007 World Archery Championship at Leipzig in Germany.
9. Devendro Singh
Image source: kanglaonline.com
Having won the “Best Boxer” title in the Federation Cup Boxing Championships in Andhra Pradesh in 2009, Devendro Singh a native of Imphal, Manipur, represented India at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He credits his sister L. Sushila Devi, who is also a boxer, as his inspiration to take up boxing.
10. Jayanta Talukdar
Image source: photodivision.gov.in
Indian archer Jayanta Talukdar from Guwahati became the first Indian archer to win gold medal at the FITA Meteksan World Cup in 2006. He also won a gold medal at the South Asian Games in 2006. He represented India in the 2012 London Olympics and is also a recipient of Arjuna Award in archery, 2007.
11. Thoiba Singh
Image source: Indian 1988 Olympic Hockey Team mumbaihockey.org
He is an Indian hockey player and represented India at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He is from Imphal, Manipur and has also represented India a lot of times - Asian Cup, 1985 and 1989; Champions Trophy 1985 and 1989; Azlan Shah Trophy 1985; Asian Games 1986 and 1990; World Cup 1986; Indo-Pak Test Series 1986; Five-Nation 1988 and Indira Gandhi Tournament 1987.
12. Somdev Devvarman
Image source: sportsrantzone.com
Somdev Devvarman from Tripura made it to the headlines for being the only collegiate player to have made three consecutive finals at the NCAA, winning back-to-back finals in his junior and senior years at the University of Virginia. He then represented India at the 2012 London Olympics. He made his Davis Cup debut at the age of 22 for India in 2008 and won the gold medal in the men’s single event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He reached his first ATP final at the 2009 Chennai Open beating two-time Chennai Open Champion and World No.42 Carlos Moya of Spain.
13. Kothajit Singh Khadangbam
Image source: indianexpress.com
A midfielder on India’s national hockey team, Kothajit represented India as a member of the men’s hockey during the 2012 London Olympics. He was a member of the silver-medal winning Indian team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and was also a part of the Indian hockey team that won gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Icheon, South Korea. During that game he was India’s only goal scorer, which ended 1-1 against Pakistan, giving India the chance to win 4-2 in a penalty shootout. After P. Nilakomol and Ksh. Thoiba, he is the third hockey Olympian from the state of Manipur.
14. Chekrovolu Swuro
Image source: tribuneindia.com
Born and brought up in Nagaland, Chekrovolu is the second Naga athlete to participate in the Olympics after a gap of 64 years when she was a member of the archery women's team in 2012. She also represented India in archery in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea and 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
15. Dingko Singh
Image source: indiasalutes.com
He is regarded as one of the greatest boxers in the history of Indian Boxing. Dingko Singh represented India at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. One of his golden moments was when he won the gold medal in the Asian Games in 1998 held at Bangkok. He has also won several other national and international boxing championships including the Kings Cup. Dingko Singh was honored with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1998 and Padma Shri in 2013.
Let’s see how you scored:
A. 0-1, you suck.
B. 2-4, you still suck.
C. 5-8, pretty impressive.
D. 9-11, you can pat yourself on the back.
E. More than 11 names, you are either lying or a genius.