Mirabai Chanu bags weightlifting silver, India’s first medal at Tokyo Olympics

Mirabai Chanu managed to lift a total of 202 kg in the women’s 49kg category to become the second Indian weightlifter after Karnam Malleswari to win an Olympic medal.

By Naveen Peter
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Indian weightlifting ace Saikhom Mirabai Chanu has won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Mirabai Chanu managed a total lift of 202 kgs (87kgs in snatch + 115 kgs in clean and jerk) to finish behind the Olympic champion Hou Zhihui of China, who set an Olympic record with a lift of 210 kgs (94+116). Indonesia’s Aisah Windy Cantika took the bronze medal with an effort of 194kg (84+110).

At the Tokyo International Forum, Mirabai Chanu began with a 84kg lift in her first attempt in the snatch segment. Later, the Indian ace improved with an 87kg lift that put her in an advantageous position in the competition. 

But Mirabai’s momentum was cut short once Hou Zhihui hit her strides with a 88kg lift in her first attempt. Hou Zhihui then set a new Olympic record in snatch at 94kgs in her third lift.

In the clean and jerk round, Mirabai Chanu began with an effort of 110 kgs, before bettering it with a performance of 115 kgs in the second. 

Though Mirabai tried to challenge the Olympic champion with an ambitious 117kgs in her third attempt, Mirabai Chanu fell short of the mark.

USA’s Jourdan Delacruz, who stayed in with a shot at a medal in the snatch segment, failed to register a clean lift in clean and jerk, allowing the Indnesian Aisah Windy Cantika to make the podium.

A historic achievement for Mirabai Chanu  

Mirabai Chanu’s win comes two decades after Indian trailblazer Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal.

Competing at the 2000 Sydney Games, the Malleswari ace won a bronze medal in the women’s 69kg weight category.

Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Picture by Getty Images

In what was an historic achievement, Malleswari’s win helped push the sport of weightlifting in the common consciousness of the Indian masses with the likes of Mirabai Chanu, Sanjita Chanu, Sukhen Dey, Ganesh Mali and Sathish Sivalingam, among others taking up the mantel in the coming years.

Mirabai Chanu, who broke into the limelight with a silver medal show at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, established herself as the next big star in Indian weightlifting with a gold at the 2017 World Championships in Anaheim, USA.


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