Fit-again lifter Mirabai set for another Olympic medal

The 29-year-old former world champion will once again be expected to add to India's medal tally and expectations are bound to put pressure on an athlete.
Indian weightlifter and 2020 Olympics silver medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu.
Indian weightlifter and 2020 Olympics silver medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu.(Photo | X @mirabai_chanu)

CHENNAI: With seven medals — one gold, two silver and four bronze — the Tokyo Olympics has been the most successful Games for India so far. It all started with star weightlifter Mirabai Chanu winning 49kg silver on Day 1 before javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra created history by clinching a gold medal to culminate India's campaign in Tokyo. 

Once again, the lifter from Manipur will be the cynosure of all eyes when she takes the platform at South Paris Arena 6 on August 7 as the country looks to surpass its previous best at the 2024 Paris Olympics. The 29-year-old former world champion will once again be expected to add to India's medal tally and expectations are bound to put pressure on an athlete.

Mirabai admitted the same but said she would do her best to win a medal for the country. "Pressure will be there as I bagged a medal for the country on the first day at the Tokyo Olympics. I cannot say which medal I will win but the least I can say is that I will try to give my best performance," Mirabai told journalists during a media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India, Indian Olympic Association and Indian Weightlifting Federation on Thursday.

Mirabai suffered hip tendonitis to finish fourth at the Asian Games last year. She then returned to competition with a lift of 184 kgs (81kg snatch and 103kg clean and jerk) at the Phuket World Cup in April this year. Given the injury and recovery and rehabilitation that followed thereafter, she is taking it easy at the moment before going full throttle next month. "I have recovered fully but I along with coach Vijay (Sharma) sir decided to go easy. I am lifting 80-85 per cent not 100 per cent. We will go all out next month," she said.

With 88kg being her best in the snatch section, the lifter has always aspired for 90-plus lift and the target remains the same. "I will try to breach the 90kg-mark but the primary focus is on technique and how it can get better. But it all depends on how I perform on the day of the competition.

Currently, I am repeating the sets of 100-110kg in the clean and jerk and 70-80kg in snatch. The plan is to reduce the sets next month and increase the weight in both sections." Her best in the C&J section is 119, a world record then only to be broken later.

Injuries and Mirabai have gone hand in hand, hampering her show at times but the lifter strongly believes that it has taught her a lot. "You never know when you will get injured. The most important thing for an athlete is proper diet and rest and I am taking care of it. I am also making sure I exercise regularly to avoid injuries. Even before the Tokyo Games, I got injured but my self-belief helped me make a comeback," she noted.

Mirabai along with her coach Vijay Sharma will leave for Paris on July 7, a month before her event. The aim is to get acclimatised to the weather and train in the city. She was also all praise for her coach and Dr Aaron Horschig, physical therapist, strength & conditioning coach, with whom she has been working since 2020.

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