Meghalaya has always been seen as a football hotbed and although the sport is widely popular, there are other sports which of late have piqued the interest of sports lovers in the state. Last week Pynnehbor Mylliemngap, a young martial arts athlete from Smit brought laurels to the state. The little known athlete won Gold at the World Association Kickboxing Organization (WAKO) Asia Championships which took place in Turkmenistan. The video of his routine has been widely circulated on social media sites and he was the only athlete to win gold for India. On coming back to India, he speaks to TNT-The Northeast Today on his journey and the difficulties he has endured along the way.
Pynnehbor who comes from Smit, a village on the outskirts of Shillong is the son of a single-mother. His father passed a few years ago and with him being the sole earning member of the family, he and his family had to endure many hardships which would be unfathomable to most of us. His interest in martial arts was evident ever since he was a child, barely 6 he would train with one of his brothers who was extremely supportive of him from the very beginning. His brother helped him grow and get better and it was he who introduced Pynneh to Coach Donny Ranee who has helped him make strides in the martial arts world. In 2006, he competed in his first National Championship (Wushu) where he won silver. He continued with wushu and continued to train until 2010.
In 2010, his brother who had always believed in him and was his biggest supporter passed away in a tragic accident. Pynneh stopped training and had lost all hope. That time in his life was extremely difficult which was filled with immense sadness as just a year before that he had lost his father. He stopped training but he discovered B-Boying. He could express his abilities not just through martial arts but also through dance and for two years he trained and joined various B-Boy competitions.
In 2012 however, many of the local boys from Smit started taking kickboxing classes with Coach Donny Ranee, Pynneh once again started to train. Having trained in contact sport since he was a kid, last year he decided to try musical form and it was at the National Championships in Andhra Pradesh where he won his first gold medal in the category. Musical form is a mix of both his passions- martial arts and dance and after winning the WAKO Asia gold medal, he sees it as a perfect fit for him.
He has had to overcome many challenges with his family not completely understanding why he would take up the sport professionally, but after much pleading with his mother, she saw that he was determined to not waste his talent and has since supported him unconditionally. On coming back from Turkmenistan, he talks about how happy they are now and are very proud of his accomplishment. There is still a long way to go and although he is the WAKO Asia gold medallist, there is still more to come. The next Championship is in Brazil sometime in November and he is hopeful that they would be better equipped this time around.
Before heading to Turkmenistan, the team had an extremely difficult time to come up with the funds. There was little to no help from quarters expected to help them and little interest was generated about their trip, however, on coming back, many well wishers now see the potential that the Meghalaya Association Kickboxing Organization (MAKO) has. The MAKO athletes have not had it easy especially with finding space to train and most times end up training at Coach Donny’s house. He has been instrumental in helping Pynneh grow into the athlete he has become.
Touchline NE, a sports based organization based in Shillong is opening a self defense/martial arts academy in the coming months and Pynneh along with bronze medallist Lamphrang Kharsahnoh will be part of the training staff. Both athletes are hopeful that this coming together will prove fruitful and Touchline NE also is looking forward to helping the athletes grow and move forward. Both parties are hoping to be able to have a successful give and take relationship and with tying up the organization, the athletes and Coach Donny are hoping that things will get easier for them.
With the Olympics now introducing Martial Arts into the games, Pynneh is hopeful that with hardwork, dedication and determination, he and the other athletes from Meghalaya will get a fighting chance. There is relief in is voice when he talks of the future as he does not feel as worried as he once was about his future but he knows that he cannot take anything for granted and this is just the beginning of bigger things to come.
(By Jessica Passah)
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