Tokyo Olympics: We are confident of returning with a medal, says Mirabai's coach

Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu's coach Vijay Sharma expects her to be engaged in a three-way battle with Hou Zhihui, Jourdan Delacruz and Windy Cantika Aisah.

Mirabai is focussing on cutting down one kilogramme ahead of the event.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

Mirabai Chanu is all set for her event at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. The Manipuri weightlifter, one of the strongest medal contenders from India at the Games, will be in a depleted field in the 49kg category for women.

Her coach Vijay Sharma expects her to be engaged in a three-way battle with Hou Zhihui (China), the current world record holder and world cup gold medal-winner Jourdan Delacruz (USA). Windy Cantika Aisah (Indonesia), who beat Mirabai to the silver at the Asian Championships, could also pose a threat.

Sharma is confident that Mirabai will be on the podium. "The preparations have been going on well. Our training camp in the USA was key to help her maintain the peak form. We are very confident of returning with a medal, but the colour of the medal will depend on how she performs tomorrow,” Sharma told Sportstar in Tokyo on Friday.

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He added that her impressive show at the Asian Championships in May put her in good stead ahead of the Olympics. Mirabai set a new clean and jerk world record of 119kgs at the Asian Championships. She also set a new personal best with a combined total of 205kgs. 

Mirabai had failed all three of her clean and jerk lifts at her disastrous outing in the 2016 Rio Games. She managed just one clean lift - an 82kg lift in snatch.

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Her coach concedes that the incident still weighs heavy on her, but they have learnt their lessons. “We do talk about the 2016 Olympics at times, but we have taken it in our stride and have worked on fixing all the little issues," he said. 

Mirabai is focussing on cutting down one kilogramme ahead of the event. She weighed 51kgs on Thursday and has since lost one kg and has one more to go. It is common practice among weightlifters to cut a kilo or two in the days leading to their event. Considering she competes in the 49kg category, Sharma notes that she consciously eats clean throughout the year and has no room to go off track.

“We have reduced her carbs for now and have increased her protein intake until the weigh-in. Post that, she will have a few bites of quick energy carbohydrates sources such as potatoes, rice and some chocolate, honey and bananas,” he said.

Mirabai has also made a statement of sorts by entering 210kg as her expected total in the start list, while Zhihui and Delacruz have gone with 205kg and 200kg. 

Sharma feels it is a "strategical move". It will give her the space to watch her opponents and accordingly adjust her weights as she will be the last lifter on the list of eight. 

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