Who is Mirabai Chanu (won 1st Medal for India in Tokyo Olympics) ? Age, Records, Biography, Medals, Earnings, Olympics performance

Weightlifting - Commonwealth Games Day 1
Weightlifting - Commonwealth Games Day 1
Ankush Das

India's superstar athlete Mirabai Chanu is the only Indian weightlifter to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which start on July 23. She will take part in the 49kgs category.

Currently ranked fourth in her category, Chanu is one of the brightest medal prospects for India. After a disappointing outing at the Rio Games in 2016, she will be desperate to win an Olympic medal this time around.


Mirabai Chanu
Mirabai Chanu

Born in Nongpok Kakching, a village about 20 kilometers from Imphal, Mirabai Chanu stunned her family and friends with her physical strength at a very tender age. She used to carry more firewood at the age of 12, than what her elder brother could carry.

Chanu herself was also very interested in sports and wanted to take up archery. But destiny brought her to weightlifting and the rest is history. She revealed that when she went to enroll herself in an archery camp nearby, it was closed. So she ended up choosing weightlifting.

“I always knew, even as a kid, that I wanted to be a sportsperson and was actually aiming to be an archer,” the Indian weightlifter revealed in a live Instagram chat last year.
“But the archery centre was closed the day I went to pay a visit, so I happened to witness some weightlifters train by chance. I loved their intensity as a 14-year-old and thought long and hard at home about what sport I wanted to take up,” she added.

She impressed in weightlifting from an early age, winning medals at international competitions.

How old is Mirabai Chanu?

Mirabai Chanu took up weightlifting after being inspired by Kunjarani Devi's story. Mirabai was born on August 8, 1994 and is currently 26 years old.

Initially, she struggled to cope up with the pressure and intensity of the training, while also dealing with a lack of support from her family. But she stuck at it and won her maiden national medal in the junior category in 2011. She hasn't looked back since.

What are Mirabai Chanu’s achievements?

Ever since her first national medal in 2011, Mirabai Chanu has dominated all the national tournaments she has participated in. She got the taste of winning an international event when she won the silver medal in the 48kg category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow at the age of 20.

At the national trials for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mirabai broke a 12-year-old national record held by Kunjarani Devi to book her place in the Indian team. Her success story continued at the World Weightlifting Championship in Anaheim, USA, in 2017. She became the first Indian woman in two decades to win a gold medal.

Mirabai followed it with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, lifting 196 kgs – 86 kgs in snatch and 110 kgs in clean and jerk. Soon after, she suffered a lower-back injury and was out of action for a couple of months.

The following year, Mirabai Chanu won the EGAT Cup in Thailand by lifting a total of 192 kg – 82kg in snatch and 110kg in clean and jerk.

At the Asian championships in April, Mirabai Chanu created a new world record in the clean-and-jerk section (119kg). She lifted her second-best effort in the snatch section (86kg) to win bronze. It also added up to her best-combined effort of 205kg.

She has been conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2018 – India’s highest civilian sports honour. She was also awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2018.

Mirabai Chanu has also received a cash reward of INR 2 million from Manipur’s Chief Minister, N Biren Singh.


One of India’s best weightlifters, Mirabai Chanu earns INR 50,000 monthly as part of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports' flagship program, the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

Performance in Olympics

Mirabai Chanu landed in Brazil as one of the top contenders to win a medal in the 48kg category. But her first Olympic outing turned out to be disappointing.

She failed to lift the weight in any of her three attempts in clean & jerk section and returned empty handed. In her own words, the pressure got the better of her and she even contemplated leaving the sport upon returning to India.

"I was really low after the Olympics. It took me a lot of time to get over the disappointment," she had said after the event.

However, she has come past it and is looking forward to the big event. Currently seeded fourth in the women’s 49kg weightlifting category, Mirabai Chanu will be one of the favourites to bring India an Olympic medal.

Edited by Rohit Mishra
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