How training in US helped Mirabai Chanu clinch silver at Tokyo games


Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu after winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, in Tokyo (ANI Photo)

Our Bureau
New Delhi

After winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu on Monday said that her decision to go to the US to get trained before the Tokyo Olympics played a big role in her being able to win a medal.

Chanu on Monday returned to India after a sensational show in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The weightlifter had opened India’s medals tally on Saturday as she bagged a silver in the Women’s 49kg category at Tokyo International Forum. “The decision to go to the US had a big role in me winning a medal at the Olympics. There was a time when all flights were shutting down to the US because of the pandemic. But SAI and Prime Minister Narendra Modi helped us get the ticket and I was able to reach there. I was able to train in the US. I got all the desired support. I want to thank everyone for their support. The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) helped me to train to the best of my ability and I had all the best facilities,” Chanu said after returning to India.

“It was quite challenging. It was our dream to win an Olympic medal. We started our preparation in 2016, I missed out on a medal in Rio Olympics and I changed the training pattern after Rio Olympics. We (Chanu and her coach Vijay Sharma) have dedicated the last 5 years to Tokyo Olympics and sacrificed everything for my goal. We did a lot of hard work, and we made a lot of sacrifices and this is why we have been able to achieve this feat,” she added.

Chanu had lifted a total of 202 kg (87kg in snatch and 115kg in clean and jerk) during her four successful attempts across the competition. China’s Zhihui Hou bagged gold with a total of 210kg and created a new Olympic Record while Indonesia’s Windy Cantika Aisah grabbed bronze with a total of 194 kg.

“We did a lot of work in the snatch, I was confident in that part of the event. We did a lot of training. China is strong in that department, but I was able to challenge my opponents. The experience was very nice, the dream has been fulfilled, the hard work that I did for the last five years has paid off,” she added.

With this monumental silver medal, Chanu has become the second Indian weightlifter to win an Olympic medal after Karnam Malleswari bagged bronze in the 69kg category at the 2000 Sydney Games when the weightlifting arena was opened to women for the first time.

Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu arrives at the airport from Tokyo, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo)

Chanu’s decision to head to the US to train helped the weightlifter perform well at the ongoing Tokyo Games, according to her coach Vijay Sharma. Target Olympic Podium Scheme, is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which provides assistance to India’s top athletes. “That training in the US resulted in Chanu’s world record in Asian Championships and as a result, she qualified for Tokyo Olympics. In May also, our tour was sanctioned and we went to the US for training. In the US, we trained without taking any tension.

“The second benefit was the doctor support that we got in the US during the training phase. If TOPS wouldn’t have sent us to the US in a day, maybe we wouldn’t have performed that well,” Coach Sharma added.

Indian Weightlifting Federation’s (IWLF) secretary-general Sahdev Yadav also said that training in the US ahead of the Games helped Chanu to be in the groove.

“If we had missed the chance to travel to the US our chances of winning the medal would have been bleak. Chanu was suffering from injury and had pain in shoulders and the doctor helped and it finally paid off,” said Sahdev

“When she was being treated in Patiala, I discussed in TOPS, and then everyone gave a nod to send Chanu to the US,” Sahdev said. The IWLF secretary-general said that Chanu had bagged the bronze at the Asian Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April this year. Meanwhile, Mirabai Chanu on Wednesday said that the feeling of meeting family after a span of two years is beyond words. Chanu returned to her hometown of Imphal on Tuesday and she is now spending some time with her family. The weightlifter had won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. “This feeling of meeting my family after a long span of 2 years is beyond words. I’m grateful to each one of you for showing faith in me and supporting me. Thank you, Ema and baba for all the sacrifices you made for me to reach this level,” Mirabai Chanu tweeted.

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