The Indian Railways has given ₹2 crore to Olympic silver medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, apart from an assurance of a promotion from her role as a ticket inspector. The Manipur government has also given the weightlifter ₹1 crore.
From early in the morning, politicians and other well-wishers wait in long queues outside her home to give her money, bouquets and words of encouragement for her next Olympic games. Her win at the Olympics was a dream for the weightlifter, whose parents could hardly afford to give her ₹5 a day for her training.
A grateful Ms. Chanu on Thursday said, “Truck drivers transporting sand, stone and other construction material used to help me by giving me a lift to the training venue. The drivers would blow their horns from a distance away to inform me that they were nearby and that I should get ready.”
The drivers were helpful because they saw her enthusiasm and the fact that she could not afford to travel to the training venue. “I could eat something during my training hours because they did not take a fare.”
There are no regular bus services from her Nongpok Kakching, her village.
“If the truck drivers did not help me, I would have never reached the Khuman Lampak sports complex in Imphal, which is about 30 km from my house. The drivers picked me up and dropped me home after training. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. I would like to give them something as a token of love and appreciation,” she added.
Although she did not announce the amount she would pay the drivers, sources said it might be around ₹2 lakh each.
Though the Railways has assured the weightlifter a suitable promotion, Ms. Chanu will continue her role as the Additional Superintendent of Police (Sports).