After switching allegiance from football to hockey, Anuradha Thokchom, who hails from Toubul village in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, has scripted a success story.
The 27-year-old realised her dream of becoming an Olympian after she was included in the 16-member women’s hockey team which qualified for the quadrennial event for the first time in 36 years.
Defender Sushila Pukhrambam (24), who also hails from Manipur, will lead the team. She replaced Ritu Rani, who was dropped for alleged poor form and attitude.
Hailing from a humble background, Anuradha had to contribute to the family’s income, as her father Churamani’s earnings as a rickshaw puller weren’t sufficient. Her responsibilities grew after his death in 2008 as she had to take care of three siblings.
“I engaged in a lot of activities since an early age,” said the forward. “Initially, I loved football, but hockey happened as there weren’t enough footballers in my village.”
Despite odds, Anuradha took to hockey under the guidance of locals before shifting to the Posterior Hockey Academy in Imphal.
On her selection to the Indian team for Rio, Anuradha said, “I was so happy that I felt like crying when the list was announced. I remembered father and other well wishers for their continuous support.
“Scoring the first goal (in Rio) is my dream. I will give it my all as I don’t want to lose the golden opportunity,” she said.
Balla, a former Olympian and key functionary of Manipur Hockey, who played a key role in transforming Anuradha’s life, said, “Recalling her relentless efforts with little support brings tears to the eyes.”
Anuradha’s mother Komolini (51) shared the sentiment.