It was the love for chocolates which dragged her to the field of athletics as she went on to become the first woman athlete to win a medal for Assam at the national platform. Tayabun Nisha, who hails from Sivasagar district, broke a national record in discuss throw in 1971 and went on to represent the country in several international events across the globe.
“When I look back at my childhood, it seems so funny. There used to be some village level competitions in my native place at Dhaiali in Sivasagar district on various occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day or on Bihu. Those days the winners used to get a box of chocolates. The love for the chocolates made me work harder to win medals as we could not afford chocolates. But gradually, I realized winning a medal also gives a recognition and later on I took it seriously,” Nisha said while talking to HeyNortheast.
This was how it all started but the journey was not as rosy as it seems. Belonging to a conservative Muslim family was a hurdle for her to take part in active sports.
“Losing my parents at an early age was a setback but it gave me the courage to fight back the odds in life. I lost my father in 1970 when I was a class VIII student. It doubled the responsibility on my shoulders to look after my siblings. There were people in our neighbourhood who used to say things against a girl going out to take part in outdoor activities. But I tried to ignore as I knew in the hour of crisis these people never came forward to help us,” said Nisha adding that her father always encouraged her.
The overall atmosphere made Nisha stronger and motivated her. “We did not have much facility to practice but I used to be prepared mentally always. I knew only my dedication can lead me towards success,” she said.
Nisha managed to get herself a job with the Railways in the 1970s at a salary of Rs 250. In 1971, she took part in the 9th Inter State Athletic Meet to make her debut in Ahmedabad. Bronze in that tournament created a history in sports for Assam as she became the first woman athlete from the state to win a medal in a national championship.
In 1974, she broke a 12-year-old national record in discuss throw in Jaipur, throwing a distance of 29.32 metre.
In the 1982 Asian Games, Nisha missed getting a medal but it did not hamper her mental strength. “Though we worked hard before the games, I could not win a medal. I was upset as I knew the reality. We were not up to the mark as compared to other countries,” she said.
Reliving her past, Nisha said that a thought that always haunts her was what if they were provided better facilities for training? “We never had proper training. We did not have idea about proper diet plans. Our contemporaries from other countries were well ahead of us. So, I sometimes feel that we could have done much better,” Nisha added.
Nisha now is planning to set up a sports academy and a hostel – especially for girls who are from poor families. “I dream of starting a training academy for girls from the rural areas. The academy will have proper facilities to nurture the talent of those who couldn’t continue further training due to lack of financial backing. I however can’t say when this dream would come true,” she said.