Award Name : Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna
Year of Award : 1995
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Imphal, Manipur, India
Nameirakpam Kunjarani Devi is the most decorated Indian sportswoman in weightlifting. She was Born on 1 March 1968 at Kairang Mayai Leikai in Imphal in Manipur, Kunjarani Devi started taking interest in sports while still in Imphal's Sindam Sinshang Resident High school in 1978. By the time she was over and done with her graduation from the Maharaja Bodha Chandra College in Imphal, weightlifting came as a natural choice before her. She joined the Central Reserve Police Force and is currently serving as assistant Commandant for the force; as she continued her winning parade in the Police Championships and captained the Indian Police team from 1996 to 1998. She started participating in sports right from her schooldays in Imphal's Sindam Sinshang Resident High School and went on to complete her graduation from the Maharaja Bodha Chandra College in Imphal. Her career took off in 1985, and among with it her medal hunts started mostly Gold, in the National Weightlifting Championships in 44-kilogram, 46kilogram and 48-kilogram, the latter her final weight category. Two new National Records are in her kitty in Trivandrum in 1987. Changing her weight category to 46-kilogram she claimed a Gold in Pune in 1994 but was relegated to Silver when she attempted to compete in the 48-kilogram class four years later in Manipur.
Her first World Women's Weightlifting Championship was the Manchester edition in 1989 and the reward of three Silver Medals lifted her spirits amicably. Since then she has taken part in seven consecutive World Championships and with the exemption of the Melbourne edition in 1993, she has won medals at every one of those competitions. However, she however could not get to the top spot, having always to be at ease with Silver Medals.
Nameirakpam Kunjarani Devi has had better fortune in the Asian Weightlifting Championships to which she has been a regular visitor. Starting with Silver first and then bagging two Bronze Medals in the 1989 edition in Shanghai, she progressed to three Silver Medals in the 44-kilogram class in the 1991 edition in Indonesia. She reserved her second spot in the next one in Thailand in 1992 and China in 1993. Her best act came in the 1995 competition in South Korea where she won Gold twice and one Bronze in the 46-kilogram category. But again went downwards in 1996 to settle for Silver twice and one Bronze in the championship held in Japan. During a 2001 championship Kunjarani Devi was tested positive and was later suspended for six months. Nameirakpam Kunjarani Devi is one of the recipients of Arjuna Awards in 1990 and shared the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award with Leander Paes for the year 1996-1997. In the same year she also won the K.K. Birla Sports award.