CHENNAI: Wrist injury has been troubling India's ace weightlifter Mirabai Chanu for almost three months now. The 28-year-old from Imphal, Manipur, had competed at the 2022 Gujarat National Games while nursing the injury and the same was the case at the IWF World Championships in Bogota, Colombia on Wednesday.
Given the competition at the domestic circuit in 49kg, it was no surprise that the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist had clinched gold at the National Games following her gold-winning run at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. But finishing on the podium at the Worlds with the injury still troubling her is no mean feat. She won an overall silver at the event ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games champion Hou Zhihui from China. Another Chinese lifter in the fray, Jiang Huihua, finished first in the category.
The ongoing event is the first qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where weightlifting events will be cut from 14 at Tokyo Games to 10."Yes, the injury is still there in her left wrist. She is getting better with each passing day," head coach Vijay Sharma told this daily from the venue. Mirabai lifted an overall weight of 200kg (87kg in snatch and 113kg in clean & jerk) to bag her second Worlds medal. She had bagged gold in the 2017 edition.
Mirabai started by lifting 84kg in her first attempt in the snatch section. Her second attempt of 87kg was held invalid and she attempted it again on her third and final try. However, for a few seconds, it looked like she would not be able to lift the weight. She appeared to have lost her balance and was about to hit the platform on her knees but somehow she managed to move her left leg forward before balancing herself and making the lift drawing cheers from the crowd and even some technical officials.
"We set the target of 200kg for this event and she achieved it. We have time so we don't want to rush things. Even other lifters in the field of 11 are taking it easy at the moment. We are quite she will hit the peak once we reach the final stages of the Olympic qualification," added the coach. The lifters will be back at the NIS Patiala after event to resume the camp.
Jiang lifted 206kg (93+113) for the gold while her compatriot Zhihua took home the bronze with a total lift of 198kg (89+109). Had Mirabai not succeeded in her third snatch attempt, she would have finished third. In the C&J section wherein she is the world record holder (119kg), Mirabai couldn't lift 111kg in her first attempt but did that successfully in the next. She then lifted 113kg to be placed second in the overall section. The Indian lifter's personal best is an overall lift of 207kg (88kg+119kg).
Medals are awarded separately for snatch, clean and jerk, and total lift in World Championships. But, just one medal for total lift is awarded in the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.A total of five lifters from the country including Mirabai were picked for the event.
The other four are S Bindyarani Devi (59kg), Chanambam Rishikanta Singh (61kg), Achinta Sheuli (73kg) and Gurdeep Singh (+109kg).The ongoing championships is an additional event and participation in it is not mandatory as per the 2024 Olympic qualification rule. As per the rule, a lifter has to compulsorily compete in the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 World Cup.
Apart from the above, the lifter also has to participate in three of the following events — the 2022 World Championships, the 2023 Continental Championships, the 2023 Grand Prix 1, the 2023 Grand Prix II and the 2024 Continental Championships.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) will publish the Olympic Qualification Rating (OQR) of each weight category at the end of the qualification period. A weightlifter's best three performances at the qualifying events will be taken into account for final assessment.