Nayanmoni Saikia took lawn bowls as a game as it is a game without injury. The slow tempo of the game, which was best communicated to Indian TV audiences through the chirping of birds when played at the Commonwealth Games, he found most appropriate.
Things got serious on Sunday. She came within a win to secure India’s first medal in the sport in Commonwealth Games history as part of the women’s fours team, which defeated Norfolk Islands 17–9 to qualify for the semi-finals. This is the best ever result in lawn bowls for India at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Hailing from Tengbari, a remote village in Sarupathar, Assam, not far from Lovlina Borgohain’s home, can 33-year-old Nayanmoni Saikia create history for India? As poignant as it may be, Lawn Bowles eventually changed NyanMoney’s life.
“Nayanmoni was previously a very dedicated lifter, her whole life revolving around the sport. But a foot injury meant her performance continued to deteriorate. Until she got lawn bowls, it became her passion. She has faced many challenges in her life, but she has never given up on sports,” Nayanmoni’s husband Bhaskar Jyoti Gohain, a local businessman from Barpathar, told The Bridge.
Selected to be a part of the SAI Golaghat Center through a talent hunt in 2001, Nayanmoni had represented her state several times. But fate had other plans for him.
In 2007, when the National Games were held in Assam, he found a new sport where his injury did not leave him behind – lawn bowls.
Ajay Chetia, a former sportsperson who later became a weightlifting promoter in Assam, said, “Lawn bowls had not been heard of in this state before 2007. When Nayanmoni saw the sport, it changed his life. She took up the sport that year itself and has represented both Assam and India several times since then. She won gold medals in the individual and team events at the National Games in 2011 and 2015. In 2012, she won the girls’ underside. Won gold medal in Asian Lawn Bowls Championship in -25 category. He also represented the country in 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Nayanmoni’s dedication to the foreign game of Lawn Bowls imported from the United Kingdom can be gauged from the fact that she traveled 2-3 hours to Guwahati, which has the only lawn bowl court in the entire state at Sarusajai Sports Complex. To resume his training barely nine months after having a baby.
Her husband said that because they are a sports family, they always tried to support Nayanmoni’s dreams.
“My mother is also a sportsperson, she played athletics but had to leave. Now Nayanmani is making us proud. We tried to support her every time. Many times we faced financial difficulties and other problems, but we tried Don’t wait or look back,” he said.
Assam, incidentally, is a very promising state in lawn bowls. In the 3rd Khelo India Youth Games this year, Assam won 10 medals, which is the highest in the country.
State’s best player Nayanmoni will play as ‘third’ – the player who serves as second in command of the team of fours and helps the team ‘leave’ through his final shots – as India on Monday wants to make history.
The Indian women’s fours team of Lovely Choubey, Pinky, Nayanmoni Saikia and Roopa Rani Tirkey will take on New Zealand in the semi-finals. This is followed by a gold medal match or a bronze medal match.