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Saikhom Mirabai Chanu: 10 Things to know about the weightlifter

Here are 10 things to know about ace Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who is working hard to win a medal at the Rio Games.

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu will be representing India at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the women’s 48kg category in weightlifting. She is considered to be a medal prospect for India, and her performance at the Olympics trials has made everyone hopeful about a successful show from her at the Games.

Let us now take a look at 10 things about the champion weightlifter.

#1 Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was born on 8 August 1994 in Imphal East, Manipur, India. She did not have a weightlifting center in her village during her childhood days, and had to travel 60km to train. She is a prodigious talent who began weightlifting in 2007 at Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal, India.

“I have always said this, if the sport is not an obsession you will never be able to win. It’s not a profession, where you come put in your designated hours and go. You have to understand that people will doubt your decision, even you will doubt them, but if that is helping you become a better athlete then it’s worth the pain.”

#2 She has been a consistent performer right from her junior days. She was awarded the title of Best Lifter at the 2013 Junior National Championship in Guwahati, India.

#3 She had clinched the gold medal at the 2011 International Youth Championship, and another at the South Asian Junior Games. It was her phenomenal performances in these competitions that caught the eye of the officials, who undoubtedly considered her to be the athlete to watch out for in the future.

“Youth level was very easy for me, it was not until 2013 I realised how difficult it was at senior.

#4 She had represented India at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she showed some excellent performances on her journey to clinch the silver medal in the women’s 48kg class by lifting a total of 170kgs.

Also Read: Once unable to afford a glass of milk, Mirabai Chanu has charted an unlikely Rio Olympic journey

#5 She considers Kunjarani Devi to be her inspiration, and looks up to her when it comes to the art of weightlifting.

“When I was a kid, I first saw Kunjarani Devi, the sport looked so appealing, I was baffled at how she was lifting such heavy weights. So I told my parents that I wanted to do this, with much reluctance they agreed. In our state, you can compare Kunjarani to what Sania Mirza is to tennis. Every Manipuri girl wanted to be like her.”

#6 Mirabai is considered to be one of the frontrunners for a medal at the Rio Olympics. She dazzled everyone at the trials for the Olympics where she had lifted 85kg in snatch and 107 kg in clean and jerk, which gave her a total of 192kg and helped her qualify for the Games.

#7 She broke the national record held by current junior team’s coach Kunjarani Devi, by matching her record of 107kg in the clean and jerk, and bettering her total lift by 2kg which has etched her name in the record book for the 48kg class in weightlifting.

“When I was in Imphal, I knew I had to prioritise, we didn’t have a lot of infrastructure when I was just entering the junior circuit. Our coaches used to give us diet charts, in which chicken and milk were an essential part of my diet. I knew I couldn’t afford it every day. Now, I have no problems, so it’s how you take it, it’s either a setback or an opportunity.”

#8 Mirabai had also broken Devi’s longstanding record in the snatch as she lifted 84kg at the Asian Championships in Tashkent this year. She matched the record for total lift which was set by Devi with a total lift of 190kg.

#9 Her total lift of 192kg is the fourth best of the year so far, and her effort at the trials would have given her a third place finish and the bronze medal at the Games. She is now working hard towards bettering her performance and is aiming for the gold.

#10 She will be getting tough competition from the Chinese weightlifters at the Rio Olympics, and will have to be wary of Tan Yayun who has the best lift record this year, with a total lift of 198kg. She will also be getting a tough fight from North Korea’s Ryang Chun Hwa, who had won the bronze medal at the London Olympics.

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