"I need to better my current personal best to be in medal contention at Tokyo 2020," says Indian Weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu
Indian weightlifter, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, gold medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, feels she needs to outdo her personal best of 196 kg (in snatch and clean and jerk combined) in the 49 kg weight category to ensure a podium finish at this year's Tokyo Olympics.
"The current world record in my category is 212 kg, so I need to better my current personal best by ten kilograms to be in medal contention at Tokyo 2020", Chanu told sportskeeda.com on the sidelines of the National Weightlifting Championships at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra, Kolkata on Monday.
Chanu is representing Railways at the said event. Currently ranked eighth in the Olympic qualification rankings, the former world champion also shared her experience of battling depression when she had had to sit out for four months right after the 2018 Commonwealth Games owing to a back injury.
"I did my rehab in Mumbai, but in those four months, I plunged into a state of severe depression. I would often cry sitting in my room alone because I wasn't recovering fast. I also missed the Asian Championships that year. My family and my coach Vijay Sharma kept telling me that I would bounce back, and I did", said Chanu, who clinched gold at the EGAT Cup in Thailand in February 2019: her first podium finish on the international circuit since returning from the injury layoff.
The 2016 Rio Olympics saw Chanu deliver a forgettable performance as she failed to lift the weight in any of her three attempts in the clean and jerk section. Attributing the failure to the nerves of performing on the Olympic stage for the first time, the twenty-five-year-old said, "I was very nervous because it was my maiden Olympics. This time around though I'm confident of putting up a much better show in Tokyo", Chanu added.
From collecting firewood in the hills to being touted as one of India's medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics, Chanu has surely come a long way. Asked how she ventured into the world of weightlifting, Chanu, wearing a sheepish smile, revealed an interesting anecdote.
"I come from a very poor Manipuri family. I seldom got two square meals a day; most often, I would get a glass of milk and a banana only once a week. My mother used to wake me up at dawn and give me a daily allowance of Rs 10 for conveyance. I used to get aboard trucks to save those ten rupees. Initially, I wanted to become an archer, but upon seeing weightlifters practice in a weightlifting camp one day, I felt very excited. That was my first proper acquaintance with the sport", Chanu said.Published 04 Feb 2020, 07:59 IST