Want to Show Weightlifters Too Can Do Something: Mirabai Chanu

Mirabai Chanu, India’s big medal hope in weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics.

Olympic Sports
2 min read

21 years after Karnam Malleshwari drew the nation’s attention towards weightlifting by winning a bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games, a demure 26-year-old from Manipur has become India’s front-runner for a medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics later this summer.

A Khel Ratna awardee from 2018, Mirabai Chanu knows her current form and fitness has her poised to finish on the podium this summer specially after the outing she had at the Asian Championships earlier this April. A world-record breaking effort in the clean and jerk event saw Mirabai finish with a bronze in the 49th kg event, her first outing in more than a year after the lockdown and travel restrictions did not allow her to compete among her international peers.

The Quint spoke to Mirabai before she departed for the Championships and the former World Champion spoke about her preparations for the summer, the years she’s spent dedicated to the sport and her ‘medal favourite’ tag for Tokyo.

Indian weightlifting star Mirabai Chanu won a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Indian weightlifting star Mirabai Chanu won a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
(Photo: PTI)

A Tokyo Medal Favourite

While Mirabai is currently placed fourth in the 49kg women’s world rankings and just recently bagged a bronze at the Asian Championships, where a majority of the Tokyo medal contenders were participating, she is seen as a major candidate for a medal this summer.

The world record effort in the clean and jerk clearly displays her preparedness for the Olympics but Mira’s campaign will also be assisted by the elimination of three of the top five competitors from her 49kg event.

With the Olympics rule stating that each country is only allowed one competitor in each event and three of the top 5 lifters in Chanu’s category being from China, two will unfortunately not be allowed to participate in Tokyo. Then there’s also RI Song Gum of North Korea, who is currently placed third, but with her country having decided to pull out of the Olympics, that leaves only Mirabai and one other Chinese lifter in the fray, from the top 5, competing in Tokyo.

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