Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu returned from Tokyo, to a rousing welcome amidst tight security, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here on Monday.
Quite thoughtfully Mirabai retained her face shield and mask, when she was escorted by security personnel and other officers.
"It is a fruit of five years of hard work. I learnt a lot from the Rio failure. Winning an Olympic medal was my dream. I was confident that I would do my best and return with a medal this time. I am very happy’’, said Mirabai.
Mirabai Chanu on Tokyo weightlifting medal: I am here because of Rio failure
Even as Mirabai thanked the prime minister, the Sports Ministry, especially the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) for the best support when required, coach Vijay Sharma elaborated in putting things
"After the first lockdown, it was thanks to the TOPS which sanctioned 60 lakh rupees, that we could train in the US," said coach Vijay Sharma. "The reward for that training came in the Asian Championship. Later, before the Olympics we got the clearance and the US visa in time to train tension-free in the US when TOPS sanctioned 75 lakh rupees. That played a huge role in this Olympic medal. If TOPS had not supported this well, the result may not have been that great."
Both Mirabai and the coach said that it could have been a far better fight for the gold against the Chinese Hou Zhihui, but for the 49 kg lifter, who got her period a day prior to the competition in Tokyo.
Mirabai Chanu and pizza - a mission achieved in Tokyo Olympics
"I was tense. I thought that it would have been better if it had not happened at this time. Then, I told myself that it keeps happening. So, better to forget about it, and focus on my competition", Mirabai
It was a courageous performance by Mirabai on the opening day of competition in Tokyo, and her Olympic medal and the beaming smile has won the hearts of the entire nation.
It will be a busy schedule for Mirabai over the next few days in Delhi before she returns home in Imphal.