From Rio Letdown to World C’ship Gold – Mirabai Chanu’s Journey
Know India’s CWG athlete: Saikhom Mirabai Chanu will represent India in weightlifting at the Gold Coast games.
With a whopping 85 kg in snatch and 109 kg in clean and jerk, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu lifted an impressive total of 194 kg in the women’s 48 kg category, to not only set a national record, but also win gold at the World Weightlifting Championship on 30 November 2017.
The 23-year-old from Manipur ended the nation’s 22 year-long wait by becoming only the second Indian after Karnam Malleswari to clinch the yellow metal at the world event.
Tears rolled down as Chanu saw the tricolour from the podium. She knew the journey hadn’t been an easy one. In fact just a year earlier, she'd even considered quitting the sport all-together.
Road to Rio
Chanu had come into the Rio Olympic selection trials after a record-setting performance at the Asian Championships in Tashkent. She had broken her mentor Kunjarani Devi’s record in snatch with an 84 kg lift and equalled the Indian record for the total lift with a combined score of 190 kg in April 2016.
At the trails in Patiala, Mirabai created two new national records en route to grabbing a berth in the 48 kg category. She picked up 85 kg in snatch – bettering her own record by 1 kg – while matching Kunjarani Devi’s record of 107 kg in clean and jerk. The best finisher among women competitors across all weight categories in the qualifiers, her qualifying lift would have been enough to win her a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, according to The Indian Express.
No surprise then that Chanu was seen as a key contender for an Olympic medal
Disappointing was how Chanu’s performance at the Rio Olympic was reported across India. The 23-year-old failed to finish her event after picking up the weight in just one of her six attempts – that included three in snatch and three in clean and jerk.
The young lifter, along with the federation and her coach, were criticised for the flop show at the quadrennial games. A dejected Chanu later revealed that she had then thought of quitting the sport after receiving flak for her failure.
I was really low after the Olympics. It took me a lot of time to get over the disappointment. I even thought of giving up the sport and stop training. The comments in social media, the criticism against my coach really hurt me.Sushila Chanu to PTI
However, she soon realised the only way to get rid of the disrepute, was by doing better. Chanu then got back into her regime, chose not to go home, and instead worked to improve her technique at the National camp in Patiala.
Run-up to CWG 2018
Just a few months after she had almost given up, Chanu clinched a gold at the Senior National Weightlifting Championships in December 2016.
And in September last year, Chanu booked a berth for Gold Coast CWG after winning gold at the Commonwealth Senior Weightlifting Championships held in Australia. She finished with a total of 189kg – 36kg more than second-placed Toua Thelma Meabroke – and also broke the Commonwealth record in snatch event with a lift of 85kg, bettering her own record by a kilogram.
Following in the footsteps of India’s first woman Olympic medallist Karnam Malleswari – who won two gold medals at the World Championships in 1994 and 1995 – Chanu will be a favourite to bring home a medal from the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.
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