To think that a little over five years ago, if we talked about sportspersons from Assam, what would be the chances of the name of a female athlete popping up in our minds? Even as the women were working hard to bring accolades back to the state, fighting the additional barriers of gender-based discrimination, we hardly came to know about their names.
Cut to 2023 and the same question will now yield not one, but many names. Lovlina Borgohain, Nayanmoni Saikia and Hima Das may be the most common names on the lips of people of Assam, and rightly so, after they brought in national and international accolades, but the list does not end there. This International Women’s Day, we will take a look into 15 sportswomen who put Assam on the world map.
1. Lovlina Borgohain
Lovlina Borgohain took centre stage when she bagged the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Boxing in the women’s welterweight event. She became the first female and second ever athlete to represent Assam at the Olympics. That year, she became the sixth person from Assam to receive the Arjuna award. Born on October 2, 1997, Lovlina hails from Golaghat in Assam.
2. Hima Das
Nicknamed the ‘Dhing Express’, Hima Das currently holds the national record in 400 meters sprinting event. Hima Das was born on January 9, 2000 in Assam’s Dhing. She became the first Indian athlete to bag a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships.
3. Nayanmoni Saikia
Nayanmoni Saikia rose to prominence with her gold winning antics in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games in lawn bowls. However, she had already represented India in two previous Commonwealth events. In 2018, she bagged the bronze medal, while in the 2014 event in Delhi, she had won the gold in the triples event. Nayanmoni Saikia was born on September 21, 1988 and hails from Assam’s Golaghat.
4. Jintimani Kalita
Jintimani Kalita is one of the newest names on the everyone’s lips after the cricketer from Assam was snapped up by the Mumbai Indians for the inaugural Women’s IPL this year. Jintimani appeared in the playing 11 for the first match against the Gujarat franchise. She was born on December 25, 2003. Here’s hoping she reaches new heights this year.
5. Apurna Narzary
The day before International Women’s Day, Apurna Narzary was busy scripting history. Narzary led the Indian Women’s Football team to a stunning 7-0 win over Singapore at the AFC Under-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Vietnam. She was born on January 8, 2004 in Assam’s Kokrajhar and currently plies her trade for Kerala Blasters FC in the Women’s League.
6. Tayabun Nisha
Turning back the clock, brings us closer to Tayabun Nisha, a former athlete. In the year 1974, Tayabun Nisha had broken the national record in discus throw and went on to represent the country in several international events. Nisha was born in Assam’s Sivasagar and was also the first woman athlete from Assam to win a medal in a national event.
7. Ashmita Chaliha
Born on October 18, 1999, Ashmita Chaliha hails from Assam’s Guwahati. She has been playing badminton since the age of seven and has already represented the nation at international events. Chaliha won the gold medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in both the singles and team events.
8. Jamuna Boro
Jamuna Boro is a professional boxer from Assam and represented the country in many international events. She was born on May 7, 1997 in Assam’s Sonitpur. Jamuna Boro won bronze medal at the 2019 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships. She bagged the gold medal at the 2nd India Open International Boxing Tournament in Guwahati and also won gold medal at the 23rd President's Cup 2019 Boxing International Open Tournament in Labuan Bajo.
9. Anjana Saikia
Anjana Saikia is another woman footballer from Assam. She was born on November 18, 1993 in Assam’s Dibrugarh. Anjana Saikia has been a member of the Indian Women’s National team and plays as a goalkeeper for Gokulam Kerala FC.
10. Monalisa Baruah Mehta
Another star from the yesteryears, Monalisa Baruah Mehta is a former table tennis player from Assam and a noted sports personality in the state. In 1987, Monalisa Baruah Mehta was honoured with the Arjuna Award.
11. Monikha Das
Monikha Das is a part of the Assam women’s cricket team and has represented the state in several national events. Das featured alongside Jintimani Kalita in the team to play at the BCCI Senior Women’s ODI tournament. Monikha was born on November 19, 1991 in Assam’s Lakhimpur.
12. Rodali Barua
Rodali Barua is a leading black belt champion in Taekwondo from Assam's Tezpur. She was born January 25, 1996 and shot to fame after bagging the bronze medal in the National Games. Rodali Barua won a gold medal at the 35th National Senior Kyorugi and 8th National Senior Pumche Taekwondo Championships held at Visakhapatnam.
13. Uma Chetry
Another player to feature alongside Jintimani Kalita in the auction pool for the inaugural Women’s Premier League is Uma Chetry. Uma Chetry also represents the Assam women’s cricket team. She was born on July 27, 2002 and was selected alongside Jintimani for the auction pool. However, she went unsold in the auctions. Great things surely await her in the future.
14. Anu Chutia
Anu Chutia from Assam won a Gold Medal in Women’s Junior Team Sprint event at the Track Asia Cup 2015- Cycling Championship at New Delhi. She won another Silver Medal in Women Junior 500 meters Time Trial event. She hails from Jorhat in Assam.
15. Popy Hazarika
Assam’s Popy Hazarika bagged gold in weightlifting the 2022 Khelo India Women’s Games. She then bagged Assam’s only medal in the National Games organised in Gujarat. Popy Hazarika was born on December 8, 1998 in Assam’s Sivasagar. She won the silver medal in the women’s 59 kilograms category. In the North East Olympic Games 2022 organised in Shillong, the team from Assam won five golds out of a total of 13 medals.
Pwilao Basumatary (boxing), Astha Choudhury (swimming), Shivangi Sarma (swimming), Chayanika Gogoi (cycling), Rongila Daimary (Wushu), and countless other women who make our every day better.
(Please note that the numberings are not be taken as rankings of any kind)