Veggies secret of Manipuri strength

What can make you the strongest girl in Asia? Ask 22-year-old Romina Chanu and she will tell you determination, focus and a diet of vegetables.


The Manipuri girl, who won the Strongest Girl of Asia 2009 title last month at the Asian Powerlifting Championship in Udaipur, swears by yongchak (sticky beans) and pine roots to get that extra edge.


"That's the recipe of my success. I follow a strict regimen, complimented with lots of green vegetables and typical Manipuri soups. It keeps me strong and energetic. I also work out for six hours daily," said Chanu, who arrived in the city this morning from Jabalpur.


Here to participate in Sunday's National Integration Youth Harmony Run organised by the Jamshedpur unit of Prajapati Brahmakumaris Ishwariya Viswavidyalaya, the power lifter explained that yongchak (a Manipuri delicacy) and pine roots were rich in protein content that were good for bone joints.


"I don't depend on non-vegetarian stuff to keep myself strong. I'm happy with the vegetables. I also savour lots of fruits and juices, besides bamboo tenga and mushrooms," said Chanu, who has scripted her success story without the help of a coach.


Chanu took up powerlifting in April 2007, following the footsteps of her uncle, Sant Kumar, a former Mr Asia in body building. "He was the only one in my family who was well known. I also wanted to earn a name for my country and my family. My uncle prodded me to become a powerlifter," she said.


The Asian Powerlifting Federation handed her the title of Strongest Girl of Asia after she topped in the 155kg (squat) and pocketed silvers in 65kg (bench) and 145kg (dead lift) categories in the junior girls' section.


In fact, Chanu surpassed the Asian record of 155kg (squat), which finally won her the honour. Last year, she won the Strongest Girl of India title.


Shoulders play an important role when it comes to powerlifting and Chanu knows how to make them strong. When she was denied an opportunity to work out in gyms in Imphal because she was a girl who loved power sports, she found a way out.


"I started carrying my younger sister Zenny on my shoulders for my daily workouts on the hills. I would walk and jog for over an hour with Zenny on my shoulders," the youngster said, who weighs 55kg and is 5ft tall.


(c) Telegraph


Chanu is disappointed that there are no takers or women powerlifters in her home state. "People there don't like women taking part in power sports and that's why I am not allowed to work out in gyms. I don't even have a coach. I practice on my own," she said.


Despite the odds, Chanu has come a long way. "I'm not from a wealthy family. My father is an autorickshaw driver who somehow manages to make ends meet. We are four sisters and a brother," said Chanu, who is now looking for a job.


What next? "I'm preparing for the World Powerlifting Meet to be held in the US in November. I'm happy with the Asian title but I want to go further," she said.

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