Mirabai Chanu mulling change of technique to challenge Tokyo 2020 champion Hou Zhihui

The Indian weightlifter plans to change her Chinese counterparts and go for gold in Paris

By Olympic Channel Writer
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Mirabai Chanu was India's first medal winner at Tokyo 2020 when she won the silver medal in weightlifting in the 49kg category. However, she was beaten by China's Hou Zhihui quite comprehensively who went on to grab the gold medal by lifting a combined weight of 210kg to set a new Olympic record.

Although Chanu almost matched her in the clean and jerk category, she was left far behind in the snatch round where the Indian could manage only 87kg, while Hou lifted 94kg.

Chanu's coach Vijay Sharma wants his ward to challenge Hou in the next international events and he thinks that a change in technique will help the 27-year-old get the better of her opponent.

"She (Hou) has an extraordinary snatch. If we have to beat her, we have to make some changes in Mira's technique." Sharma told Times of India.

Chanu has already started to train at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala where she is working on her snatch.

"Snatch is a technique event. We have the strength, but the Chinese girl's technique is better in snatch. That's why she could lift more in Tokyo. We have to focus on the technique now."

While Hou holds the world record in snatch (96kg), Chanu has the best score in clean jerk (119kg).

Over the years, the Manipuri athlete has improved her scores in snatch as well. Her personal best is 88kg, but she still has some distance to cover to be the best.

"She had improved in snatch. But the problem is that her competitor's snatch is very good. I hope we can take it to 92kg if everything goes according to plan," Sharma stated.

There is little doubt that a change in technique might prove costly at this point in her career, but the coach feels that Chanu has the mettle to pull it off.

"At this stage, it is difficult for an Olympic medallist to change the technique. But if we don't do it, we will stay in the position where we are now. We are doing this because we feel there's no risk involved. This is an experiment, but if we don't try we won't improve. We have to do this to stay on top."

The plan has already been set in motion after discussing it with Chanu. She will take little steps and increase the workload gradually before shifting focus to changing technique.

"We have been discussing this since the Olympics. I discussed this with Mira and have decided to start with small points, step by step. We will increase the load by two to three kilos. We won't overhaul the technique completely. We will see how things progress.

"It has been a month since the Olympics and there are a lot of international competitions coming up. We will make her ready by doing light exercise and fitness training. After that we can shift gears," he concluded.