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Mirabai Chanu Wins a Silver in Weightlifting, India's First Medal at Tokyo 2020

Mirabai Chanu is the first Indian woman athlete to win an Olympic weightlifting medal after Karnam Malleshwari.

Updated
Olympic Sports
4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Tokyo Olympics: Mirabai Chanu (extreme left) won Silver in the 49 kg event.</p></div>
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Ace Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu clinched a Silver and became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games in the women’s 49kg weightlifting event on Saturday. Mirabai began with two good lifts in the snatch before a brilliant first lift in the clean and jerk assured her of a Silver Medal. The Gold medal went to China's Hou Zhihui, who was just too good on the day.

This is the first time India have won a medal on the opening day of the Olympic Games. This was India's first weightlifting medal at the Olympic Games in more than 20 years, since Karnam Malleshwari in Sydney.

Mirabai, ranked third in the world, had a total lift of 202kg with 87kg in snatch and 115kg in clean and jerk.

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Mirabai Chanu Wins a Silver in Weightlifting, India's First Medal at Tokyo 2020

Image: The Quint 

Hou Zhihui of China won the gold medal, setting a new Olympic record of 210kg. She set the record too in snatch with 94kg and 116kg in clean and jerk. Indonesia's Windy Cantika Aisah took home the silver medal with a total lift of 194 kg.

With the silver at the Olympics, Mirabai has now won medals in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships and World Championships.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Mirabai Chanu's family celebrate her Silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics</p></div>

Mirabai Chanu's family celebrate her Silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics

Image: The Quint

Mirabai started off with a lift of 84kg in her first attempt at snatch. She went better in her second attempt, lifting 87kg. In the final attempt, she couldn't lift 89kg. But her second attempt, also her personal best in snatch, was good enough to be placed second, behind Zhihui.

Overwhelming favourite China's Hou Zhihui set an Olympic Record with a lift of 94kg in the snatch event after first breaking the record with a life of 92. Mirabai meanwhile holds the World Record for the clean and jerk event which she broke in April. Remember, in Rio, she failed in all 3 clean and jerk attempts.

Mirabai Chanu Wins a Silver in Weightlifting, India's First Medal at Tokyo 2020

Image: Olympics.com

Hou Zhihui’s first clean and jerk was a 109 kg attempt, which she lifted with absolute ease before Mirabai followed it up with a solid lift of 110kg, assuring her of a medal. Hou followed it up with an Olympic record lift of 114kg.

A determined Mirabai then smashed the Olympic record on the next left itself as she went for 115kg.

The Chinese lifter rounded off her final attempt with a powerful lift of 116kg but Mirabai’s final lift wasn’t successful and she finished with Silver.

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In clean and jerk, Mirabai had a confident lift of 110kg in the first attempt and 115kg in the second attempt. Though she couldn't lift 117kg in the final attempt, she was able to confirm a silver medal in the Olympics.

Mirabai was deemed as a medal prospect for India at the Olympics which opened on Friday after a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the lead up to the Olympics, Mirabai had set a new world record in clean and jerk (119kg) in a bronze-medal show of 205kg, at the Asian Championships in Tashkent in April this year.

In the process, Mirabai has now completed a redemption path which started from the disappointment at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her debut at the Olympics in the 48kg category was a horror show, unable to lift in all three attempts of clean and jerk. The effect was so hard that Mirabai had to take the help of a sports psychologist to get over the happenings of Rio.

Five years from Rio, toughened up mentally and richer in experience, Mirabai completed the turnaround at Tokyo by becoming the second Indian woman and fifth individual overall to win a silver medal at the Olympics.

She worked hard and rectified every point of error to be the best version of herself. Injuries, especially a mysterious pain in the lower back, came in her way but that didn't stop Mirabai from reaching the podium in Tokyo. Her training in St Louis, USA led to finding ways of improving fitness and snatch technique, her bugbear for a long time.

With the Olympic rings in her earrings, Mirabai lifted her way to glory at Tokyo. On realising that she had won a medal, the diminutive Manipuri broke down and hugged her coach in jubilation.

The silver medal around her neck and the smile behind the mask indicated the completion of a turnaround, erasing the pain of Rio with the joy at Tokyo.

(With inputs from IANS)

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