Monalisa Barua Mehta

Monalisa Barua Mehta was the first women athlete from the North East to receive the prestigious Arjuna award. Born on December 7, 1963, Monalisa started playing table tennis at the age of 11. The paddler made her maiden appearance in the All Assam Table Tennis championship at Nagaon at a very early stage of her life and she made a major upset in the tournament defeating her maternal aunt Minati Sarma, who was one of the favourites to win the title in the tournament. Interestingly, Monalisa didn't visit Nagaon with an intention to take part in the tournament. Rather she had gone there to spend a few days with her family members as there was a vacation in the school. That was just beginning of Monalisa's stunning career. After returning from Nagaon, she joined a coaching centre at the Nehru stadium and thereafter there was no looking back. Monalisa won her maiden National Sub Junior title in 1976. Later, the paddler also bagged the junior and senior national titles in 1979 and 1985 respectively. Assam won the Padmawati trophy on five consecutive occasions since 1975 and in all the occasions, Monalisa played a crucial role in the team's victory. A fast mover, Monalisa was known for her dexterity in spinning the ball on the board. She was part of Indian contingent in two Asian Games -1982 (Delhi) and 1986 (Seoul). The paddler also represented India in Asian Table Tennis championships, World championships and SAF Games. She was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1987. Monalisa, who married another top class table tennis player of the country Kamalesh Mehta, settled down in Mumbai. Currently she is a top official of Oil India Limited and also actively associated with Table Tennis Federation of India.


Dipankar Bhattacharjee

Dipankar Bhattacharjee, one of the finest shuttlers the country has ever produced, was born in Guwahati on February 1, 1972. At the age of 8, he picked up the racket and started playing under the supervision of his father Ishwar Bhattacharjee. His father was his first coach and has been a constant guide. In addition to his father, Dipankar had the fortune of being trained by some other good coaches as well. He had spent few years at Prakash Padukone's Badminton Academy at Bangalore and was trained with Prakash and Vimal Kumar. The shuttler first made a name at the age of 13 when he represented Assam in the Sub Junior Nationals and soon became a regular member of state badminton squad. He helped Assam win titles in Sub Juniors as well as in the Junior National championships. Dipankar, who was known for his agility, speed and calmness under pressure, won his first of three senior national titles in 1994.Two years before; he flew the Indian flag high during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where he stormed into the pre-quarter finals before losing to number one player of that time Zhan Xianhua. Hiteswar Saikia, then chief minister of Assam, was so happy with this performance that he awarded a brand new car to him after the shuttler returned home from Barcelona. Dipankar represented India twice in the Olympics and in this process he became the first shuttler in India who played two back-to-back Olympics. Dipankar was also the first Badminton player to represent India in Olympics. Plagued by injury, the soft spoken athlete quit the game at the age of 33. Although he started a badminton academy in Guwahati, it was shut down after a couple of years. He is presently settled in Mumbai where he has been working as a Manager in Indian Oil Corporation.


Talimeren Ao

Talimeren Ao, popularly known as T Ao, is considered as one of India's all time great soccer players. Ao, a doctor by profession, was born in 1918 in Changki village (now in Mokokchung district of Nagaland). He came to limelight while representing Maharana club as half back. His performance with Maharana club in 1941 IFA Shield against Mohammedan Sporting, one of the toughest teams in the country at that time, caught the eye of soccer officials in Kolkata and he immediately got an offer to play for Mohun Bagan. Thereafter, he never turned back. His keen football sense, superb skills, courage and dedication to the game made him a legend in his time. Ao was also the first soccer captain of Independent India and led the national soccer team in the 1948 London Olympics.


Bhogeswar Baruah

Bhogeswar Baruah, the first Arjuna awardee from Assam, was born on September 3, 1937 in the Upper Assam district of Sivasagar. During the sixties, he joined the Indian Army and it gave the former athlete a golden opportunity to turn himself into a remarkable figure in Indian sports. From 1964-1968, he established supremacy in the 800 mts race. Although he was denied a place in the Indian team in the 1964 Olympics, Baruah didn't lose heart and he hit back with a stunning performance in the 1966 Asian Games where he won two medals. Baruah clocked 1 minute 49.04 seconds to collect the gold medal in the 800mts race. He also bagged a bronze medal in the 4x400 mts men's relay in 1970 Asian Games also held in Bangkok. The former athlete was also good in soccer and even represented EME team against Mohun Bagan in a Durand Cup match. Baruah's birthday, 3rd September, is celebrated as a Sports Day by Abhiruchi Group every year.


Gilbertson Sangma

Gilbertosn Sangma, a super star during 80's, was born on April 12, 1955 in Dibrugarh. He ruled Assam football for about two decades with his natural talent. Sangma received his early football lessons in the Police Reserve, before he represented Golaghat in the Senior Inter District Soccer championships in 1973. The opportunist striker was immediately picked up for the State Santosh trophy team in which he represented Assam from 1973-1980. Sangma also donned Indian team colour in three international matches at Indonesia and Thailand in 1975. The nimble footed player became a household name during 70's and 80's with his brilliant performance which also helped his team, Assam Police, to win several big level competitions, including the Bordoloi trophy. Sangma's speed, ball control and presence of mind made him a super star at a very early stage of his career. He was also a perfect team man and treated every member of the team, even new comers, equally in the dressing room as well as in the ground and because of this quality he always earned great respect from his teammates. Sangma, who received Lachit award in 1979, retired as a top official of Assam Police and is still a regular visitor in different soccer activities in Guwahati.


Susan Das Choudhury

Susan Das Choudhury, a pioneer tennis player, was possibly the first star of Assam in this game. Susan spent her childhood in Tezpur and her interest towards the game started to build there. Later, Susan shifted to Kolkata for higher training where she practised under renowned tennis coach Akhtar Ali in South Kolkata. She quickly established herself as one of the country's top tennis players. Susan along with Kiran Bedi, (India's first lady IPS officer) and Nirupama Mankad (wife of former cricketer Ashoke Mankad), ruled the Indian tennis circuit in the seventies. Susan won her first national women singles title at New Delhi in 1975 and later also represented India twice in the Federation cup. She was part of the national team at various events during 1969-1978. Das also participated in the Wimbledon's qualifying round. Her powerful service and nicely crafted drop volley was a treat to watch.


Tayabun Nessa

Tayabun Nessa was undoubtedly the best athlete from Assam after Bhogeswar Baruah and possibly the finest one among women. She established herself as a role model for young athletes of the state with her never-say-die attitude. Although the veteran athlete was born in an economically weaker family in Sivasagar district, she overcame all odds with hard work and dedication. Tayabun, a discus thrower, collected her first national medal, a bronze, at the age of 15 in the state athletics meet held at Ahmedabad. Later, she created a sensation at a national meet throwing discuss to 29.23 meters to break a 12-year national record. The best throw of Tayabun, however, came at the 1981 National Championships where she made another record, hurling discuss to a distance of 41.66 meters. This performance also helped her to earn a place in the Indian team which took part in 1982 Asian Games held at New Delhi. The former athlete, who is still actively associated with athletics, retired recently from NF Railway as a senior official.


Sarat Das

Born in 1916, Sarat Das was one of the finest footballer that Assam has ever produced. He caught the eye of Animesh Ganguly, who is known as soccer saint of Assam, at a very early stage of his career and Ganguly gave him a place in the Maharana Club in 1935. That was the beginning. Das took just three to four years to establish himself as one of the best defenders of Assam and his skills attracted the officials of the top clubs of Kolkata when he went there with Maharana Club to play in the IFA Shield. He signed for Mohun Bagan club in 1941 and spent the rest of his life in Kolkata. Football in Kolkata was highly competitive at that time (it remains now also), but he won the hearts of the local soccer fans with his sharp and intelligent brain and great soccer skills. Gosta Paul, who was also a defender of great repute and a father figure in Kolkata football, once admitted that after him, it was Sarat Das who managed the defence best in Kolkata football. Injury forced Das to take retirement from competitive football in 1948 even though he was in the probable list (Manoranjan Banerjee, another Assam player, also selected for the same camp) of Indian team for the London Olympics that year. A die-hard fan of Mohun Bagan club, Das represented the Green Marron brigade in one more season in 1952 when the club was going through a lean phase and club officials invited him to take the charge.


Toshen Bora

Toshen Bora was born in February 14, 1950 at Naharkatia. He represented Indian soccer team in 1971-72 Pre-Olympic tournaments. Bora turned out for Assam in different competitions from 1969-1973 and later also collected NIS coaching degree. He served Assam team as a coach in the Santosh trophy soccer championship and had also seen as the selector of Indian Junior soccer team.


Debashish Roy

Debasish Roy was born on December 2, 1954 at Karimganj. He was the only player from Assam who played in all three big clubs of Kolkata-Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting. He also represented two top clubs of the state - Gauhati Town club and Navajyoti club before moving to Kolkata. Roy, a versatile centre forward, was a good sprinter and his run with the ball was a delight to watch. He represented Assam twice in Santosh trophy and five occasions for Bengal. Roy also represented India on several occasions and was also the vice captain of the Indian junior team. He got an opportunity to play professional soccer as a Hongkong based club invited him to play for them. An injury forced him to turn down the offer and because of same reason he couldn't represent India in the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi.


Nandini Barua

Nandini Barua was born in August 13, 1957. She was the first Assamese paddler who represented India and it was in 2nd Asian Table Tennis championship. Barua, a noted educationist and recipient of state award winner in 1979, represented Assam in various national level championships.


Mithu Baruah

Mithu Baruah is one of the finest swimmers in the State's sporting history. Mithu, who started swimming at Dighalipukhuri and didn't get an opportunity to practise in a modern swimming pool during her early career days, overcame all odds with great determination. During her playing days, Mithu, a contemporary of renowned swimmer of India Bula Choudhury, ruled in almost every national championship and also brought laurels for the country from different international meets which included SAF, Asia Pacific meet etc. Her best performance came in an international meet was at the 7th Asia Pacific championships, held at Hongkong in 1993, where she collected 2 golds, as many silvers and a bronze. The swimmer, who is now a top officer in NF Railway, married former captain of Assam Cricket team Parag Das and their son Riyan Parag is now a national level cricketer in junior category.


Jayanta Talukdar

Jayanta Talukdar was born in 1986 in Guwahati. It was his father Ranjan Talukdar who first noticed that he had a good talent in archery and provide him all necessary help so that he could excel in this field. Jayanta picked up the bow and arrow at the age of four and the lawn in his residence was the first practise arena of this archer. Later, he was selected by the Sports Authority of India from where he joined TATA Archery Academy at Jamshedpur. Jayanta was the part of the India team which won a silver medal in the Junior World Championships in 2004.He followed up with another magnificent performance picking the gold medal in the FITA Metekaskan World Archery Championship in 2006. The Archer also won a gold medal in the South Asian Games and a bronze medal in the team event of the Doha Asian Games held in the same year. Jayanta's dream to represent India in Olympics was fulfilled in 2012 when he took the flight to London to take part in the greatest show on earth. The archer received the Arjuna award in 2007 and became the third athlete from Assam to be conferred with the prestigious award.


Joydeep Das

Joydeep Das, a reputed sports person in the field of Shooting, known for his medal winning performance in 1986 Asian Games held in Seoul. He bagged a bronze medal in the .22 Small Bore Rifle shooting event and in this process he became the second athlete, after Bhogeswar Baruah, from Assam who was successful to collect a medal from the Asian Games. Das, hails from Silchar, also represented India in the Asian Shooting Championship


Arlen Konwar

Highest wicket taker from Assam in first class cricket, Arlen was born in 1981 at Dergaon. Right arm spinner made his Ranji trophy debut in 2001-02 against Jharkhand in Keenan Stadium at Jamshedpur. Till date he played 69 first class matches and collected 212 wickets. In this process he also scripted new history in Assam cricket by becoming the first bower from the state to pick up two hundreds or more wickets in first class cricket.


Rajesh Bora

He is one of the finest batsmen that Assam has ever produced. Born at Tezpur in 1967, Bora started to play cricket from the very early age. He made debut in Ranji trophy in 1983, at the age of 17, against Bihar in Jamshedpur. He scored 51 in that game and it was followed by another solid knock of 91 runs against formidable Bengal in the very next match. After that there was no looking back. He altogether played 66 matches and scored 3447 runs (5 hundreds, 17 fifties), highest by any Assamese batsman in the first class game. He also collected 28 wickets from those matches. During his illustrious career Rajesh played several good knocks which included 235 against Bihar, his highest score in a single innings in the Ranji trophy. However Bora, who missed the Team India bus narrowly, would be remembered for his magnificent knock against Tripura in 1988. The right hander batsman took just 56 balls to score a hundred and it is still considered as one of the fastest centuries in Indian domestic cricket. He scored 126 runs (62 balls) in that innings and hit 11 fours and same number of sixes, four of them came on consecutive balls.


Gautam Dutta

He belonged to those cricketers from Assam who had the potential to don the Indian jersey. Unless India won the world cup in 1983, we possibly didn’t get this pacer as he was more interested in table tennis and other games rather than cricket during his early days. However Kapil and his team’s brilliant efforts changed the mind of many young sportsperson of the country during that period and Gautam was one of them. A bowling all rounder, Gautam, popular known as Gauti to his teammates, made debut in the Ranji trophy in 1989 and finished his career picking 142 wickets along with 1654 (including 8 fifties) runs in 53 matches. His best match was undoubtedly in 1991-92 season against Tripura where the left hander pacer picked up 14 wickets, nine of them came in the first innings. It is still the best performance by an Assamese bowler in a first class game. Dutta also played for U-19 Indian team along with Rahul Dravid and few other former greats of the country.


Syed Zakaria Zuffri

One of the finest wicketkeeper of Assam, Zakaria was born in Guwhati in 1975. He played first Ranji trophy match against Tripura in 1992-93 season and made the debut very memorable by taking seven catches. Zacks, known by this name in the cricket world, played 76 first class matches, most by an Assamese cricketer, scored 3447 runs (5 hundreds and 17 fifties) and made 150 victims behind the stumps. Apart from Assam, the left hander played several first class matches for his office team Railway and also seen in India ‘B’ team in Challenger trophy. He turned out for Hyderabad Heroes in ICL too.


Anup Ghatak

A footballer by great repute Anup Ghatak changed his boot and turned out to play cricket when he joined Cotton College in 1958. He made his Ranji debut in 1963 and very second game the medium pacer picked up seven wickets against Bihar which cemented his place in the team. Known for his hostile pace, Ghatak, first bowler from Assam to collect hundred wickets in Ranji trophy, played 36 first class matches and picked up 125 wickets. The records stood nearly two decades before Gautam Dutta wrote it to his name. Many felt that it was the luck factor that denied Ghatak to play for India.