Manipuris making a mark on the mat

Khelo India Youth Games 2019 champion in boys U-17 category in Greco-Roman wrestling 51kg, Loyangamba starts year on a high.

Greco Roman 51 kg gold medallist K Loyangamba Singh with coach Lukhoi Mangang at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Wednesday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

K. Loyangamba Singh is a livewire on the wrestling mat. Khelo India Youth Games 2019 champion in boys U-17 category in Greco-Roman wrestling 51kg, the Imphal native nurses Olympic dreams but is not thinking beyond the next bout, next competition.

Manipuris making a mark on the mat is a new development, he is finding his feet in a sport with a tradition at home. Chief coach Lukhoi Mangang explains: “We have a traditional style called ‘mungna’, similar to the Greco Roman style. Indian wrestling will soon come to accept us as an emerging state.”

READ| An afternoon at Mary Kom boxing academy

Loyangamba is part of a two-member squad (Maickel Singh to compete in 55kg freestyle). The former’s 51kg gold in Greco-Roman is an early boost to the north-eastern state. “Mary Kom and Dingko Singh made Manipur proud and inspired youngsters (in boxing), I hope Khelo India will turn the focus on wrestling.”

Studying sport at the Special Area Games (SAG) Centre in Imphal is a way of life for the little champion. “He joined SAG at 15 and is looked after by his uncle after losing both parents,” informed the coach. Winning the U-17 title in 51kg will put the kid in contention for a Rs 5 lakh scholarship for one year, lasting for eight years,” he adds.

READ| Khelo India: Haryana banks on champion wrestler Anshu

He represented India at an international age-group wrestling competition in Tehran two years ago. “Our mission is to create Olympic hopefuls in future, talents like Loyangamba, given the right exposure at national training camps, can make Manipur and India proud,” says Lukhoi.

“The next step usually is to join a government department or the army. Coaches keep developing talent, we have no say in future moves. We hope champions like him go on to make us proud.”

The results

Greco-Roman 51kg, Final; K Loyangamba Singh (MAN) bt Dyaneshwar Desai (MAH) 4-2; Bronze: Amandeep Sharma (HAR), Ankit (HAR)