Year-ender: A relook at Nagaland’s strides in sports
KOHIMA — In the year 2023, Nagaland emerged as a powerhouse in the realm of sports and athletics, not only at the state level but on the national and international stages.
From sixteen-year-old Tenloi Phom winning a silver medal for the state in the 48 kg category Taekwondo event at the 66th National School Games in Delhi in June, to the Faith in Action Martial Arts Academy setting a Guinness World Record for ‘highest martial arts kick (assisted)’ in July — the achievements made by the state’s sportspersons reflect a diverse and thriving sports culture across a multitude of disciplines.
As the year draws to a close, here is a look at the notable strides made by the athletes and sportspersons from Nagaland outside the state.
‘Faith in Action’ from Dimapur did exceptionally well with their performances throughout the year. One of the outstanding recognitions was breaking the prestigious Guinness World Record for the ‘highest martial arts kick (assisted) with an impressive 14 feet and five inch kick on the set of India’s Got Talent in July.
In the field of Taekwondo, Faith in Action Taekwondo Academy represented Nagaland state and won medals for the state in the regional, national and international level in 2023. The team bagged 41 medals at the 5th Goodwill Open National Taekwondo Championship held at Nazira, Assam.
They also won the national team champions’ title and secured 30 medals for the state at the 3rd Honour Cup Taekwondo National Taekwondo Open Championship.
They went on to emerge as world champions in the team aerobic competition and brought home medals for the country in the World Taekwondo Hanmadang held at Pohang, South Korea, in August.
At the individual level, athletes secured a good number of medals in the same discipline with twin brothers from Nagaland – Shiusuthong and Shiuthong winning gold and silver, respectively, at the 36th National Taekwondo Sub-junior Championship 2023 in Odisha.
Four youngsters from Nagaland won bronze medals at the 5th Cadet Kyorugi and Poomsae Taekwondo Championship held in Rajasthan earlier this year, while the Nagaland Police Taekwondo team clinched four medals at the second open Indian International Taekwondo Championship 2023 in Bengaluru in June.
Sixteen-year-old Tenloi Phom won a silver medal in 48 kg category of taekwondo at the 66th National School Games in Delhi in June.
Nagaland’s sports prowess extended to the 37th National Games held in Goa, where the state team secured eight medals across disciplines including Taekwondo, Sepaktakraw, boxing and Pencak Silat.
In field of Sepaktakraw, the Nagaland women Sepaktakraw team won three medals at the 33rd Senior National Sepaktakraw Championship, Nagpur in April. Later on, five girls from Nagaland went on to win six medals at the 36 Kings Cup World Sepaktakraw Championship held in Thailand.
Commendably, Hokato Hotozhe Sema made India proud by securing a bronze medal in the men’s shotput at the 4th Asian Para Games, Hangzhou (China) in October.
In the world of football, the Nagaland women’s blind football team emerged as the champion in the first women’s IBFF Northeast Zonal Blind Football Tournament, while Nagaland Men’s blind football secured third at the 4th Men’s IBFF Northeast Zonal Blind Football Tournament held in Arunachal Pradesh.
A huge progress was witnessed among the state arm wrestlers even as the arm wrestling team from Nagaland won 14 medals in the third National Arm-Wrestling Championship in Bengaluru. In addition, two of the winners—Vethozo Lohe and Avilie Zuyie went on to represent India in Malaysia and secured medals.
In wrestling, a female wrestler from Nagaland, Vekhonielu Curhah, represented the Indian team and secured a medal at the Asian Belt Wrestling championship 2023 at Uzbekistan in May. Meanwhile, Venuzo Dawhuo, the reigning champion of the NWA Open Naga Wrestling Champion, won Chin Wrestling Championship 2023 held in the United States of America in July.
Athletes from the state also achieved feats in the lesser-known disciplines including darters from Nagaland who won in various categories at the Summer Darts Open Championship 2023 in West Bengal. Two teens from Nagaland, Kevidi Linyu and Chathavituo Mepfuo, secured six medals at the National Strongman Championship in Chandigarh earlier in May.
Nagaland team also won six bronze medals in Northeast Inter-state badminton championship held in Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland defeated Manipur to lift the first North East Cricket Development Committee Friendship Senior Men’s tournament in April. Nagaland Pencak Silat Team won 33 medals and was the second runner up at the 5th North East Pancake Silat Championship 2023 held in Manipur.
Other achievements at the individual level included Kekhrieneitso Angami, who emerged as the champion of ‘Kumite 1 Warrior Hunt’ – a reality series based on mixed martial arts competition, Vilasier Khate from Nagaland and Fardeen Mohammed secured Men’s double title at All India Tennis Association 1L Tennis Championship held in Odisha in April.
In November, Yoto Chizo and Hemavi Ayemi from Nagaland represented India in the East Asian Muaythai Championship 2023 held in Hong Kong where Chizo secured medal while Ayemi was awarded the best coach.
It may be mentioned that various organisations from outside the state including the Athletic Federation of India organised events in Nagaland. The state government, Youth Resources and Sports department, groups, organisations, and associations in the state also organised games and sporting events of varied disciplines throughout the year.