Mirabai Chanu could not record a single valid lift in the clean and jerk round at the Rio Olympics five years ago. She became depressed as a result of her breakdown. Even in that state, though, she did one thing correctly. Mira was not about to give up. She overcame depression, fought through injury, and tonight, she accomplished what she couldn’t in Rio: winning India’s first Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020.
“I have made many sacrifices to reach here,” she told NDTV in an exclusive interview. The 26-year-old lifted a total of 202 kg (87 kg + 115 kg) to better Karnam Malleswari’s bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. With this, she exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate clean and jerk lift.
“To be a big player or achieve something big, you have to make sacrifices and I have made many sacrifices,” she said.
“I had worked very hard for the 2017 World Championship. My sister was getting married, but I missed that.
“After failing at the Rio Olympics, I had the World Championship ahead of me and that was my chance to prove myself, so I did not even go home and missed my sister’s wedding,” she said.
“I have been missing my mother a lot for several days now. She has prayed hard for me and I miss her a lot,” an emotional Chanu said.
The gold in the women’s 49kg went to China’s Hou Zhihui with an effort of 210kg (94kg+116kg), while Aisah Windy Cantika of Indonesia took home the bronze with an effort of 194kg (84kg+110kg).
Mirabai has three sisters and two brothers. ‘She told us she’d win a gold medal or at the very least a medal,’ her mother said. Everyone was expecting this. On Friday evening, many of our distant relatives arrived. For the night, they stayed at our place.
Chanu explains that people from India’s northeastern states are shorter in height but compensate with a low center of gravity similar to Maradona and Messi’s, which is a key reason why Manipur excels in sports like weightlifting, football, and boxing. Mirabai was able to lift nearly four times her own weight in the snatch and clean and jerk categories thanks to her low center of gravity..