This piece was published in Sportskeeda
In a country where cricket and a few other sports hog the limelight, combat sports in India face a host of challenges just to survive as a ‘competitive sport’. Sparse media coverage, lack of cash incentives, inadequate corporate assistance are some factors that stack up against athletes, who pursue this sport with diligence day in day out.
Wushu is one sport that has walked the ‘low-profile’ path over the years, but notwithstanding that the sport is beginning to show signs of coming of age.
The Indian wushu team’s two bronze medals at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games should be not swept under the carpet. The exploits of Yumnam Sanathoi Devi and Narender Grewal in Incheon must be seen in proper perspective. For a sport that struggles to grab newsprint space, the country’s wushu players have been doing what they can do best – perform and win medals on the international stage.
One wonders how many of us really know about Yumnam Sanathoi Devi – believe it or not she is a twice silver medallist in the World Wushu Championship. The Manipuri girl, who has now shifted to the 52-kg category, had scooped up the silver medal at the 2013 World Wushu Championship in Kuala Lumpur in the 48-kg category – the same category in which she picked up a silver medal at the 2011 World Wushu Championship in Ankara.
The World Wushu Championship are held every two years and the Indian wushu players have fared well no the world stage – they had won six medals (two silver and four bronze) at the 2013 World Wushu Championship and had snaffled four medals (two silver and two bronze) at the 2011 World Wushu Championship.
India missed out on another medal when W. Sandhyarani Devi crashed out of contention in the women’s 60-kg sanda event. Sandhyarani is the 2010 Asian Games bronze medallist – one of the two medals India won in that event – she also won the bronze at the 2013 World Wushu Championship. Inda also bagged two silver and one bronze in an International Wushu Meet in Georgia in June this year. Even at the Asian Junior Wushu Championship held in Manila last month, India won 1 silver and five bronze medals.
Clearly, all these performances indicate that wushu is making the right noises in India. The 22nd edition of the Senior National Wushu Championship was held in Jaipur in February 2014, where close to 800 players took part. Manipur is one state which is formidable in this sport churning out a slew of talents on the national horizon. States like Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand among others are steadily climbing up the ladder and making their presence felt in various domestic wushu tourneys.
Wushu was first introduced in India in 1989 by late Anand Packer with the formation of the Wushu Association of India (WAI) based in Lucknow and it soon followed the induction of senior nationals – the sport made its debut in the 2011 National Games in Ranchi.
The WAI clearly deserves praise for doing their bit to ensure India is producing medals on the big stage – two medals each at the 2010 Asiad and 2014 Asiad coupled with 10 ten medals in the last two World Wushu Championship (2013 and 2011) – must be enough indication that wushu is well on course to make an even bigger impact in the coming years. The 2015 World Wushu Championship will be the next biggest preparation for the country’s wushu players, the venue for which is yet to be decided by the International Wushu Federation (IWUF).