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Mirabai Chanu’s Journey to Olympics Silver in Tokyo

Mirabai Chanu made history by becoming India's first weightlifting silver medalist in the Olympics. Chanu won the medal in the 49kg weight class. We here have a look at her journey failing in Rio to silver medal at Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Last updated: 24.07.2021
Mirabai Chanu Journey to Olympics Silver

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Mirabai Chanu made history by becoming India's first weightlifting silver medalist in the Olympics. Chanu won the medal in the 49kg weight class. During the 49kg division final, the 26-year-old lifted 87kg in snatch and 115kg in clean and jerk to achieve a total of 202, making Indian history. Chanu tried 84kg in her first snatch attempt, despite her frailty in the lead-up to the main event. The Manipuri took her time and lifted the barbell with ease. In her next effort, she lifted 87kg before increasing the weight to 89kg, which was one kilogram more than her personal best of 88kg set at the national championship last year. She was unable to surpass her personal best and finished second in the snatch event with 87kg, just behind the leader Zhihui, who set a new Olympic record with a 94kg effort.

Chanu has won many World Championships and Commonwealth Games medals. The Indian government honored her with the Padma Shri award for her contributions to sports. The Government of India gave her the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year 2018. Chanu had won silver in the women's 48 kg weight class at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then went on to win gold in the 2018 iteration of the event in Gold Coast, breaking the game's record in the process. Her greatest achievement was winning the gold medal in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in the United States. Here is her journey to the Olympics silver medal.

Chanu is the sole Indian woman competing in the weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Olympics, as she made amends for her setback in Rio. Mirabai Chanu's world came crumbling down in Rio five years ago when five of her six lifts were ruled illegal. Mirabai, on the other hand, has stated that her conflict is internal.


“I am competing with myself,” she said.

“I failed in Rio. I have to make up for it in Tokyo.”

Mirabai Chanu was born in Nongpok Kakching, Imphal, Manipur, on August 8, 1994. Her family saw her strength when she was only 12 years old. Her elder brother struggled to take up a large bundle of firewood that she could easily carry to her house. Mirabai's tale isn't about a wayward talent, but about a woman who discovered the appropriate opportunity to pursue her passion. Mirabai decided early in her life, as a 13-year-old girl from a low-income household, that she would achieve renown as a sportsperson. Fortunately, she went to a weightlifting training center and met Anita Chanu, a former international weightlifter, and coach who introduced Mirabai to the sport.

Mirabai, who worked for the Indian Railways as a Chief Ticket Inspector, progressively progressed to become a world-class weightlifter. She won silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after lifting 170 kilograms. It was her first important turning point. In the women's 48 kg event, Chanu qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She did not finish the event, however, because she was unable to lift the weight in any of her three clean and jerk efforts. After a dismal performance at the Rio Olympics, she bounced back with 186kg to win gold at the 2016 Senior Nationals. Chanu's comeback from her Rio de Janeiro tragedy has been extraordinary.

In 2017, she won the gold medal in the Women's 48 kg category at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California, after lifting a competition record 194 kg in total (85 kg snatch and 109 kg clean & jerk). Moreover, she overcomes an unexplained back condition that had hampered her progress in 2018. Mirabai returned to competition in February of last year and competed in a variety of events until the epidemic forced her to take a break. Chanu won the first gold medal for India at the Commonwealth Games 2018, lifting a total of 196 kg, 86 kg in Snatch, and 110 kg in Clean and Jerk. In the 2019 Asian Weightlifting Championships, she took bronze in the 49 kg category.

Mirabai finished fourth in the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships with a total lift of 201kg (87kg Snatch and 114kg Clean & Jerk). In the 49kg category, this personal best total also set a new national record. She broke her personal record four months later when she won the gold medal in the 49kg division at the 2020 Senior National Weightlifting Championships by lifting 203kg (88kg in Snatch and 115kg in Clean & Jerk). Mirabai Chanu, the first Indian weightlifter to qualify for the 2021 Summer Games finished second in the 49kg division in 2021. At the Tokyo Olympics, the weightlifter keeps her word and wins a silver medal for India. Mirabai's Olympic medal places her in the Indian sports Hall of Fame and in the highest echelon of weightlifting, a feat that no one else has achieved.

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