Mirabai Chanu pulls out of Asian Games

Mirabai Chanu has pulled out of the Asian Games after failing to recover from a lower back injury.

Mirabai Chanu in action during the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.   -  AP

India's campaign for the 2018 Asian Games, starting in Jakarta and Palembang on August 18, received a setback with reigning women's 48kg World champion weightlifter S. Mirabai Chanu pulling out of the mega event due to lower back pain on Tuesday.

Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) issued a statement confirming Mirabai's exclusion. “Mirabai Chanu has encountered a spinal spasm which resulted in severe back pain. Presently she is going through rehabilitation. Owing to the pain, Mirabai's entry has been withdrawn from the Asian Games,” said the release.

IWLF secretary Sahdev Yadav told Sportstar that “there will be no replacement for Mirabai.”

Mirabai's absence will hit India hard as the Manipuri was expected to bring home a lifting medal from the continental event after Karnam Malleswari's silver in the 1998 Bangkok Games.

According to National chief coach Vijay Sharma, the ace lifter felt the pain in her lower back about eight weeks ago and stayed away from weight training for more than a month. She consulted several doctors and underwent various scans and tests but did not get any conclusive opinion as to what triggered the pain.

Mirabai resumed her weight training last week under the supervision of eminent physiotherapist Heath Matthews in Mumbai. However, when she increased her load, she started feeling the pain again and informed the IWLF about her unavailability in writing.

Yadav said the federation gave Mirabai the liberty to take her decision. “Since she has told us that she will not be able to compete due to the pain, we have informed the Sports Authority of India and the Indian Olympic Association about her unavailability,” said Yadav.

Vijay Sharma welcomed the 24-year-old lifter's decision. “She needs to be fully fit for the World championships (in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan from November 1 to 10), which will be the Olympic qualifying event, which is more important than the Asian Games. Mira's focus should be on the 2020 Olympics,” said Sharma.