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Tokyo Olympics 2020: IWF General Secretary feels Mirabai Chanu will be a strong contender for gold

Modified 04 Feb 2020, 13:42 IST

Mirabai Chanu is India
Mirabai Chanu is India's best medal hope in weightlifting

What's the story?

The General Secretary of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Sahdev Yadav, feels that Mirabai Chanu will be a strong contender for a gold medal at Tokyo Olympics 2020.

The background

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is an Indian Weightlifting sensation. The Manipur-born weightlifter is most popular for winning a gold medal at the 2017 World Championships held in Anaheim, United States. Chanu lifted a total of 194kg (85 kg snatch and 109 kg clean & jerk) to bag the top honour. 

She also has a Commonwealth Games Silver (2014 Glasgow) and Gold (2018 Gold Coast) to her name. Her 196kg effort at 2018 CWG was also the games record in the 48kg weight category.

For her tremendous contributions to the sport of weightlifting, Chanu was awarded the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India's highest sporting honour, in 2018.

Mirabai lifted a total of 201kg at the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships, finishing 4th in the process. Although she narrowly missed out on a podium finish, this lift became her personal best and is also a national record in the 49kg category. 

The heart of the matter

On the sidelines of the ongoing 35th Senior Women's Senior National Championships, Sahdev Yadav told PTI,

"We are guaranteed of a Silver by Mirabai. Our fight will be with China for a gold."

Mirabai has been on the rise after recovering from a back injury in 2018, and 2019 has been a great year for the Manipuri as she breached the 200 mark for the first time. Yadav is also confident that she will peak at the upcoming Asian Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. He further added,

"We expect her to top the rankings in Kazakhstan. And mark my words, if she manages to do that, there will be no stopping her in Tokyo, so much so that the Chinese might pull out fearing a loss." 

Chanu had qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics as well but her campaign was disastrous as she failed to lift the weight in all her three events in the clean and jerk section. The more experienced and confident weightlifter is looking to leave the past behind her and do well at the quadrennial extravaganza in Tokyo, slated to begin on July 24, 2020. 

With 3,869.8038 qualification points in the Women's 49kg Category, Mirabai is nearly almost to qualify for Tokyo Olympics 2020. Hou Zhang of China leads the qualification chart with 4,703.1982 and a personal best of 211kg. Jiang Huihua is close on her heels in second place with 4,667.8878 qualification points and a personal best of 212kg.

Meanwhile, Ri Song Gum of North Korea has 4,209.4909 qualification points and a personal best of 209kg. A total of 13 lifters will be making the cut for Tokyo in the 49kg category. 

Taking a look at the personal best of these three weightlifters, it is evident that Mirabai will have to improve upon her personal best of 201kg by at least 10kg and also pull it off the lift on the grand stage of the Olympics. The Asian Championships will provide Mirabai the stage to push herself to the limit and act as a dress rehearsal for Tokyo Olympics 2020.

What's next?

The Kazakhstan event, slated to be held between April 16-25, will be the final Olympic qualification event. With such strong words from the IWF General Secretary on Mirabai's chances in Tokyo, it will be interesting to see how she fairs at the Asian Championships. The IWF also has plans in place to send Olympic-bound weightlifters to Tokyo 20 days in advance in order to acclimatize to the conditions there. 

Published 04 Feb 2020, 13:42 IST
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