Eyes set on Olympics berth, Mirabai leads India's chances at Weightlifting World Championships

Ace Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will spearhead the Indian a team at the Weightlifting World Championships, which is a gold-level qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mirabai Chanu

India’s best medal hope is Mirabai Chanu, who had won the gold in the 48kg category at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, United States.   -  C. V. Subrahmanyam

Mirabai Chanu will spearhead a seven-member Indian team at the Weightlifting World Championships to be held in Pattaya, Thailand from from September 18 to 27. The World Championships is a gold-level qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Indian squad, which is currently training in Thailand, features four women and three men lifters. The quartet of Mirabai (49kg), Commonwealth Championship gold medallist Jhilli Dalabehera (45kg), Sneha Soren (55kg) and Rakhi Halder (64kg) will represent India in the women’s events. 

On the other hand, Youth Olympic gold medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg) will make his World Championship debut. Besides, Commonwealth Championship gold medallist Ajay Singh (81kg) and national champion Achinta Sheuli (73) will also be in action.

RELATED| Drug-hit host Thailand fails to lift ban for weightlifting Worlds

“This our core Olympic group. They have to participate in six qualifying events for Tokyo. So they will be the ones competing in the World Championship,” national coach Vijay Sharma told PTI.

“We have also added some youngsters to the core group because we want them to get exposure. The more chances we give to the youth and juniors, the better prepared our second line, our future will be,” he added.

India’s best medal hope is Mirabai, who won the gold in the 48kg category at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, United States. Mirabai, who missed the 2018 edition of the event, has made a strong comeback from a lower back injury that had kept her out of action for nearly nine months.

The 24-year-old had lifted 82kg in snatch and 110kg in clean and jerk to clinch the gold medal at the EGAT Cup in February in her new weight category of 49kg. In the Asian Weightlifting Championship, the diminutive Manipuri produced her personal best of 199kg (86kg+113kg) but missed the podium by a whisker, finishing fourth.

The qualification process for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is based on the performances of the weightlifters in six events over a period of 18 months out of which the four best results will be considered.

The Squad:

Men: Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg), Achinta Sheuli (73 kg), Ajay Singh (81 kg).

Women: Mirabai Chanu (49 kg), Jhilli Dalabehera (45 kg), Sneha Soren (55kg)Rakhi Halder (64kg).