Mirabai Chanu wins silver in women’s 49 kg weightlifting in the Tokyo Olympics

Published : July 24, 2021 19:29 IST

Mirabai Chanu reacts during a successful attempt in the 49 kg category of the women's weightlifting event at the Tokyo Olympics, on July 24 Photo: Gurinder Osan/PTI

Mirabai Chanu, the 26-year-old weightlifter from Manipur, got the first medal for India in the Tokyo Olympics when she secured the silver medal in the women’s 49 kg weightlifting event. Twenty-one years after Karnam Malleswari’s bronze winning feat in the Sydney Olympics gave India its first medal in weightlifting, Chanu made history by bettering the performance and becoming the first Indian to win an Olympics silver in weightlifting. She became the 16th Indian to win an individual medal in the Olympics from 1900 to date.

Lifting a total of 202 kg, Chanu lifted 115 kg in the ‘Clean And Jerk’ category and 87 kg in the ‘Snatch’ category. She was 8 kg behind the gold winner, China’s Hou Zhihui. Thanking her coach Vijay Sharma and her support staff, Chanu said in a message, “It’s really a dream come true for me. I would like to dedicate this medal to my country and would like to thank the billion prayers of all Indians which were with me during this journey. I like to thank my mother for a lot of sacrifices and believing in me. Also special thanks to our government for supporting me, Ministry of Sports (SAI), IOA, Weightlifting Federation of India, Railways, OGQ, sponsors and my marketing agency IOS for their continuous support in this journey.”

Her first weighlifting coach, Anita Chanu, under whom Mirabai trained from the age of 11, said she believed her young student was destined for sporting greatness right from the start. Speaking to Frontline, Anita Chanu, Dhyan Chand Award winner, said: “Right from her childhood she was an extremely disciplined girl. Even when others had finished their training for the day, she would continue by herself. I never gave her any respite and trained her the whole year, and she would take it…. I was certain that she would one day win an Olympic medal. When she first came for training, I realised from her physical abilities, her sporting nature, the enormous potential she had. I had even told her parents that she should be encouraged and her training should take place properly. They were very happy and encouraged to learn this from me.” From 2006 to 2012, Mirabai trained under Anita Chanu and then went on to perform at the national level. But whenever she would return home, Anita Chanu said, Mirabai would train at her coaching centre.

Mirabai Chanu, who became only the second Indian woman to win a silver in the Olympics after P.V. Sindhu, did not allow her disappointment in the 2016 Rio Olympics (where she had three “no lifts” in the ‘clean and jerk’ category) weigh her down. She returned with a bang the very next year, winning the world title at Anaheim, U.S., and proceeded to win the gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, and the bronze in the Tashkent Asian Championships.

Congratulating her on her silver medal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on social media, “Could not have asked for a happier start to @Tokyo2020! India is elated by @mirabai_chanu’s stupendous performance. Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting. Her success motivates every Indian.”

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