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Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu Wins India Its First Silver Medal at Tokyo Olympics

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Commonwealth Games gold-medallist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu has won India its first Olympic Medal, a silver at the Tokyo Olympics. She has always had only one long-term wish – she just wanted to win an Olympic medal.

Prime Minister Modi was quick to congratulate her for this win, which is a very significant breakthrough for Indian sport and particular for women in weightlifting. He said, ‘couldn’t have asked for a happier start.’

For the last four years, Mirabai has been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, now taking place in Tokyo.

Journalist Boria Majumdar in an interview to NDTV remembers her tough journey into weightlifting with this anecdote, “she started weightlifting by first lifting wooden logs for burning fire in the house.” Mirabai’s father was against her becoming a weight lifter but her mom gave her the support she needed.
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Top eight weightlifters from each weight class qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Before the medal Mirabai was ranked 8th in the International Weighlifting Federation ranking lists. Chanu was heartbroken when she first heard that the Olympics, which was scheduled to be held on July 24 to August 9, 2020, had been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Federation President

Talking about how the current situation is not affecting the athletes in their training programs, Weightlifting Federation President Yadav said of training conditions, “They are safe and secure, only one athlete per room. They are training as discussed with the coaches and the Sports Authority of India.” The Indian weightlifting camp is based at the NIS Patiala. “The lifters have been given around 25 kg weights to do some amount of training. There is no need to be going full throttle now.”

Earlier in 2020, Chanu broke her own national record in the National Weightlifting Championships, by lifting a total of 203 kg to win the 49 kg gold. She lifted 2 kg more weight than she lifted last time.

“Had they gone back home to their respective states it could be unpredictable because of COVID-19. Here, we know they are in safe confines,” said Yadav.

Mirabai’s previous best of 201 kg had come at the World Championship in Thailand in September last year, where she had finished fourth.

Talking about Chanu’s return, he said, “We will let Mirabhai compete in it more for practice. I am hopeful a few more Indians can qualify and we have high hopes from Rakhi Halder, who did well at the national championship. I am also hopeful about Ajay Singh He can also make the cut. These two will have enough chances to qualify when the next competition cycle begins.”

“Chanu was out for a long time because of back injury and from now till the date of the Tokyo Olympics, she will have good time to be at her best.”

The Manipur weightlifter finished fourth in the 49 kg event at the Asian Weightlifting Championship in April last year, where she lifted 199 kg (86kg+113kg) but missed a medal. However, she won the women’s 49 kg category and brought home a gold medal from the Sixth Qatar International Cup in Doha, late last year.

New challenges arise for Mirabai as now she has to better her personal best, to improve her total effort of 203 kg (88kg+115kg).

She had earlier withdrawn from the 2018 Asian Games and World Championship, stating that she needed some time to prepare for the big Olympic qualifier.

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