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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Why weightlifting champion Mirabai Chanu is a serious medal hope for India

ANALYST
Feature
586   //    29 Nov 2018, 14:59 IST

Mirabai Chanu celebrates winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2018
Mirabai Chanu celebrates winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2018

Weightlifting sensation Saikhom Mirabai Chanu has been chosen as one of the two TOPs weightlifters for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and is claimed to be one of the serious medal hopes for India.

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme or the TOPs is a flagship program introduced by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which provides maximum assistance to the athletes who are serious medal prospects at the Olympics. It provides them the best services of support staff/personnel like physical trainer, sports psychologist, mental trainer and physiotherapist etc.

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, who competes in the 48-kg category, came into the foray when she made the Commonwealth Games record by lifting a record 196 kg (86 kg snatch and 110 Kg clean & jerk) in the competition in 2018. She thereby won the first gold medal for India at the Games with that effort. Prior the 2018 Commonwealth Games, she also broke a competition record at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in the USA by lifting a record 194 kgs (85 kg snatch and 109 Kg clean & jerk), also winning the gold medal there.

After missing out on the participation at the 2018 Asian Games at the last moment due to a back problem, Mirabai is focused on putting all her energy for scripting history for India at the 2020 Olympic Games. A fit Mirabai is now training at the SAI center, where coincidentally another legendary weightlifter and Olympic medallist Karnam Malleswari trained before having a podium finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In an interview with The Hindu, Mirabai looked very confident with her preparations and went to the extent of quoting, “We will definitely win an Olympic medal and bring it back to India”.

Next up for Mirabai are the 2019 Asian Weighlifting Championships which will also serve as the qualification round for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If stats and previous records are to be believed, Mirabai Chanu surely looks like a probable candidate for a podium finish for India.

Mirabai Chanu (centre) celebrates on the podium at the Commonwealth Games 2018
Mirabai Chanu (centre) celebrates on the podium at the Commonwealth Games 2018

Even if Mirabai couldn’t finish the Rio Olympics as she couldn’t lift in either of her three attempts, the gold medal winner from Thailand, Sopita Tanasan lifted 200kg whereas the silver and bronze medal winner lifted 192 kg and 188 kg respectively, which is way within the grasp of Mirabai, especially after her improvements in 2017 and 2018.

India would be praying hard for Mira to add to India’s medal tally along with other athletes who will be competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

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