Image Credits: @Inunganbi
Takhellambam Inunganbi puts in the practice and determination needed to become a champion.
Northeast India has a huge fanfare for martial arts and Manipur is currently enjoying a mini-boom within the judo world and amateur judoka star Takhellambam Inunganbi is part of the revolution sweeping through women’s judo at the moment.
The rise of judo in Manipur is evident at the 2020 Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati, as the state bagged a total of 17 medals: six gold, four silver and seven bronze across categories of the modern martial art sport.
Inunganbi is the daughter of T Nabakumar of Tiger Camp, Sagolmang, Imphal East.
Inunganbi immense talent was shining through the ranks with hunger and determination to were very visible and after some highly impressive performances, the 21-year-old was pushed to the next level. She has fought at various weights in her career, but her most impressive win came when she took third place in the 63 kg junior women's category at the Commonwealth Judo Championship 2019 organised by British Judo Association at WALSAL, Birmingham, England.
Inunganbi is also a Khelo India silver medallist in the 63kg at the 2020 edition, and has finished fifth at the Asia-Oceania Junior Championships 2019.
The Imphal native attributes to the sport some of the valuable lessons she learnt like “goal setting, to reach your final destination goal, the need for hard work. Judo teaches you respect and discipline. Judo is a way of life.
Inunganbi is one of many judokas who are coming up faster, stronger and more explosive, and picking up Judo faster than the previous generation ever did. It will be interesting to see what Takhellambam’s future in the sport will be like!
Thanks to Takhellambam for her answers. Best wishes to her future in Judo!
Let’s take it from the beginning: When, where and why did you start practising Judo?
Actually, I started learning this sport in 2010, approximately 10 years ago, as a self-defence mechanism, but now it has become my passion. As a kid, I was really energetic, my parents thought it would be good for me to channel all those energies into something. Years passed, I fell in love with the sport and I never looked back.
What inspired you to learn Judo?
Well, there are athletes that tried a few kinds of sports during their childhood and then needed to choose the one to keep going with. For me, it was love at first sight since I was 10 years old.
When did you decide that you want to take Judo as a profession?
When I got my national medal in 2014, that’s when my obsession grew and I was training upwards of 4-6 hours every day. Nowadays I am adamant about training efficiently and use my education to optimize recovery and performance. I love learning new things. Judo teaches me new things each and every day.
Can you share with us what are your biggest influencers during your growth? Who are the people behind you that helped to achieve so much?
Undoubtedly my father. Coming from a humble background, he was always broad-minded and wholeheartedly supported me in every decision.
What are some of the hardest lessons you have learned as a judoka?
Goal setting, to reach your final destination goal, the need for hard work. Judo teaches you respect and discipline. Judo is a way of life.
Which other games do you like apart from Judo?
Boxing and Volleyball.
You won many tournaments and proved that progressing so fast, can you share the most memorable wins in your Judo career so far?
All wins and all losses were important. It helps shaping you into who you are. However, If I have to name one then I would say that the Asian Championship in 2019 at Chinese Taipei semi-final fight was my most memorable fight ever.
How do you balance life, school, and Judo?
Honestly, I just don’t let things be an excuse. There’s a set of time to do homework, to go to class, to work, to train, or to spend time with my family and friends. Judo also helps because I can jump back to life whenever I finish my class. It’s rejuvenating, basically.
How do you keep up with training during the current pandemic? Do you train as often as you hoped?
It was a surreal experience, uneasy even, when India announced lockdown, I was stuck at home for six months and haven’t been able to get much training in during the pandemic, but recently came back to the (IIS) centre and been training well.
Is there something that you haven’t done that’s on your Judo “bucket list”?
I want to compete and get a medal at the Asian Championships. I just go into every fight to give the best version of myself.
Where do you see judo evolving in the next 10 years?
There are a lot of things that have changed and for the better where in the country Judo is concerned. The exposure of competing in different countries has also made the difference which serves as a major source of encouragement for us. I feel the sport will evolve further in the next 10 years and it is exciting to see.
What are your plans/ goals for the future? Tell us more about your projects.
I think that the main goal, for now, is getting back to the normalcy with the judo training and to the pre-COVID-19 routine. I believe it would take time to go back to competitions but we need to be ready.
My future plans are to further improve so I can become a top athlete in the country and qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games and I also want to be a become a Judo Coach.