Tokyo Olympics, Weightlifting: Mirabai Chanu's quest for glory

Form guide of Mirabai Chanu and a look at weightlifters she will come up against in her battle for a medal at Tokyo Olympics.

Mirabai Chanu

Mirabai Chanu's Clean and Jerk lift of 119kg set a new world record, going past Chinese lifter Jiang Huihua's previous record of 118kg.   -  FILE PHOTO/PTI

Mirabai Chanu's improvement and recent performance place her in a great spot to get India a weightlifting medal at Tokyo Olympics.

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (49kg)

Ranking: 2

Form guide: 2021: Bronze medal (205kg) in Asian championships, Uzbekistan; 2020: Gold (203kg) in National championships in Kolkata; 2019: Fourth (201kg) in World championships, Thailand.

Main rivals: Hou Zhihui (Chn), Jourdan Elizabeth Dela Cruz (USA), Beatriz Candelario (Dom), Windy Aisah (Ina), Kristina Sobol (Roc) and Thi Huyen Vuong (Vie).

As a 14-year-old, Mirabai Chanu aspired to be an archer but fell in love with weightlifting and joined a Manipur government-run centre inside the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal in late 2007. From her village Nongpok Kakching, Mirabai had to travel around 20km one way to join early morning training. Trained by international Anita Chanu, a Dhyan Chand award winner, Mirabai relied on her discipline and hard work to show promise and won her first National title in 2009. Her first international medal came in the Asian junior championships in 2012, when she got a bronze medal.

Mirabai continued to progress and shone in 2014 when she won a silver medal in the women’s 48kg weight category with a lift of 170kg in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Following a disappointing outing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she had three 'no lifts' in clean and jerk, Mirabai bounced back to take the World title with 194kg in Anaheim, USA, in 2017.
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Mirabai improved her total further to set a new National record of 196kg and took the Commonwealth Games gold in 2018 in Gold Coast. Mirabai, who lost nearly a year to a lower back injury, came back to improve her National mark by lifting 201kg in the revamped 49kg in the World championships in Pattaya, Thailand, in 2019 and again bettered it (203kg) at the National championships in Kolkata in 2020. She raised the bar further by doing an aggregate of 205kg, including a world record of 119kg in clean and jerk, in the Asian championships in Tashkent this year.

The 25-year-old Khel Ratna award winner has a very good chance to get the country another weightlifting medal from the Olympics after more than 20 years.

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