CHENNAI: Soon after winning the historic silver at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics, India's weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (49kg) was on video chat apparently with someone back home.
Euphoric after her triumph, the 26-year-old Manipuri athlete did Bhangra, a traditional folk dance of Punjab. The call continued for a few more seconds but it was Mirabai's Bhangra jig that surprised everyone including her head coach Vijay Sharma.
"Congratulations India. The camp is celebrating and the celebrations will continue after break as she is going to have a dope test," the coach told this daily from Tokyo. A dope test is mandatory for a medal winner after the event finishes.
Earlier, Mirabai ended India's 21-year-old long drought in Olympics by clinching the silver finishing behind China's Hou Zhihui. Indonesian Windy Cantika Aisah finished third to bag a bronze medal. Before Mirabai achieved the feat, Karnam Malleswari was the only Indian lifter to win an Olympic medal.
She bagged bronze in the 69 kg category at the 2000 Sydney Games when the weightlifting arena was opened to women for the first time.
Mirabai lifted a total of 202kg (87kg in snatch+115kg in clean and jerk), three kilograms lower than her personal best of 205kg. Zhihui lifted eight kilograms more (94kg in snatch+116kg in C&J) than her Indian counterpart. The Indonesian lifted 194kg (84kg snatch+110kg C&J).
In the snatch event, which was seen as Mirabai's Achilles' heel prior to the big event, the Indian lifted 84kg in her first attempt and then improved it by three kilograms in her next attempt. However, she failed to lift 89kg in her last attempt.
Zhihui started with a lift of 88kg and made it 92kg in her second. In her last attempt, she lifted 94kg to create an Olympic record in the snatch section. The lift also meant she led Mirabai by seven kilograms after the snatch section.
The 2017 world champion Mirabai continued her good show in the clean and jerk section by lifting 110kg in the first attempt and then setting a new Olympic record by lifting 115kg.
However, the record was soon broken by Zhihui as she lifted 116kg in her third attempt after she lifted 109kg and 114kg in her first two attempts respectively. Mirabai tried to better it by attempting to lift 117kg but failed.
Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) secretary-general Sahdev Yadav was confident when this daily spoke to him on the eve of the competition. "I told you Mirabai will win the medal. We were here to see which colour she fetches and finally she gave India its first Olympic silver in weightlifting," an elated Yadav told this daily.
Tributes and congratulations pour in for Chanu on Twitter:
Someone please order a lifetime of and for Mirabai Chanu ASAP— Somdev Devvarman (@SomdevD) July 24, 2021
Congratulations #MirabaiChanu for lifting 202 kgs and a billion spirits.— Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) July 24, 2021