How ace Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu kept raising the bar

We look at how India’s only weightlifter at Tokyo 2020 has rewritten the record books

By Olympic Channel Writer

When it comes down to cold numbers, the one Mirabai Chanu is looking forward to is 210. The total mass, in kilograms, she will try to lift by the time Tokyo 2020 gets underway on July 23.

Chanu, who will be hoping to exorcise the demons of Rio 2016, believes a total lift of 210kg can make her a medal contender. At the Rio Olympics, Thailand’s Sopita Tanasan won gold with a total of 200kg. But with the lowest division in women’s weightlifting category at the Olympics moving up from 48kg to 49kg, the Indian has reset her target accordingly.

Two women, namely China’s Hou Zhihui and Jiang Huihua, have already crossed the 210kg-mark and will be Chanu’s major rivals at the Tokyo Games.

“With the increase of 1kg from 48 to 49, all the weightlifters will now try to increase their total lift,” Mirabai was quoted saying on the official website of the International Weightlifting Federation.

“Moreover, some lifters, who were competing in 53kg earlier, will now come down to 49kg. So, the competition will be tougher now. My aim is to touch 210kg before the Tokyo Olympics, which will be the world record. It will not be easy but my target is to do that and I will have to work harder than before.”

Mirabai will be India’s sole representative in weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 but is seen as one of the brightest medal prospects for the country. We look at the records she has rewritten and how she is raising the bar for Indian weightlifting:

2017 World Championships

Hoping to heal the wounds of Rio 2016, when she fluffed all her three attempts in clean and jerk, Mirabai Chanu lifted a personal best of 194 kg to win the gold medal at the 2017 World Championships.

The Indian lifted 85kg in snatch and 109kg in clean and jerk to win India’s first gold medal at the world event in 22 years.

2018 Commonwealth Games

Mirabai Chanu smashed the Commonwealth as well as Games record to clinch gold at Gold Coast in 2018.

The Indian lifted a total of 196kg (86kg in snatch and 110kg in clean and jerk) to break the Games record of 175kg (77kg in snatch and 98kg in clean and jerk) held by Nigeria’s Augustina Nwaokolo.

She bettered her own Commonwealth record of 85 kg in snatch created at the test event in Gold Coast in 2017 and the clean and jerk and total record created at the 2017 World Championships in Anaheim, USA.

2019 World Championships

Even though Mirabai lifted a personal best of 201kg, with 87kg in snatch and 114kg in clean and jerk, she had to settle for a fourth place at the 2019 World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand. The Indian lifted three kilograms short of the bronze medal finish.

Chinese lifters dominated proceedings in Pattaya, as Jiang Huihua won the gold with a total lift of 212 while Hou Zhihui lifted 211 for a silver medal.

2020 National Championships

Mirabai broke three national records to retain the gold medal at the 2020 Indian national weightlifting championships.

She lifted 88kg in snatch and 115kg in clean and jerk for a total of 203kg, bettering her own mark at the 2019 World Championships.

2021 Asian Championships

The Indian shrugged off her shaky start and lifted 119kg on her third and final attempt to create a world record in clean and jerk at the Asian Championships held in Tashkent earlier this year.

She broke the record of 118kg held by Jiang Huihua.

Mirabai also registered an 86kg lift in snatch to take her total to a personal best of 205 kg.