Mirabai Chanu won India’s first medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after clinching silver in the women’s 49 kg event on Saturday. This is India’s first silver in weightlifting at the Olympics. Mirabai lifted a total of 202 kg and broke the previous Olympic record in the category.
India’s only previous medal in weightlifting was won by Karnam Malleswari, a bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mirabai, a former world champion, has now won medals at Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympics.
China’s Hou Zhihui, the current world record holder in the event, won gold with a total of 210 kg, setting a new Olympic record in the event, while Indonesia’s Aisah Windy Cantika won bronze with a total of 194 kg.
Mirabai entered the competition at 84 kg in the snatch category and her first lift was successful. She then had another successful lift at 87 kg before failing in her third and final lift at 89 kg. In her preferred clean & jerk category, Mirabai’s first two lifts at 110 kg and 115 kg were successful. Her final lift at 117 kg was unsuccessful but she was assured of a silver by then.
Having failed at each of her three lifts in snatch at the Rio Olympics, Mirabai equaled her personal best in the snatch category this time around.
Mirabai’s first major breakthrough came when she won silver in the 48kg category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. At the age of 19, her total lift of 170 kg was only three kilos short of the gold-winning effort.
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At the Rio Olympics in 2016, her nerves seemingly failed her as she managed just one clean lift in six attempts. A year later, however, Mirabai bounced back from Rio by winning gold at the Commonwealth Championships and then at the World Championships. She carried that form and confidence into the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast in 2018, eclipsing her own national records in the process.
Soon after, Mirabai was struck by a back injury that left her out of action for almost 10 months. She returned in 2019, finishing just outside of the medals at the Asian Championships and the World Championships. At the 2020 Asian Championships, held in Uzbekistan in April this year, Mirabai set a new world record in clean and jerk (119 kg) on her way to bronze, further confirming her place at the Tokyo Olympics.
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