Mirabai Chanu posted an impressive performance of 196 kg overall in the 48-kg women’s weightlifting event, winning the gold medal by a margin of 26 kilos.
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Chanu managed a 86 kg in the snatch first up, setting a new national record, followed by another in the clean and jerk of 110 kg. Her previous best and the national record was 194 kg at the World weightlifting championships in 2017.
Chanu had ended India’s 22 year wait for a World Championship gold last year. Sydney Olympics bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari is the only other lifter from India to have won the gold medal in the World Championship. She had achieved that feat in the 1994 and 1995 edition in the 54kg category.
Chanu had started training at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal in 2007, and her inspiration was none other then Kunjarani Devi, who had won three gold medals at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. Chanu’s competitive career began with a silver at the Junior National Weightlifting Championships in 2013.
At Glasgow four years earlier, Chanu had finished with a lift of 170 kg, earning her a silver in the same category. Born in Imphal East, Chanu was 19 back then, and that was her first medal in a major international meet.
Fast forward two years to Rio, Chanu was one of the favourites going, but failed to get going, managing a 82 in the snatch, way below her personal best before failing to manage a clean lift in the clean and jerk section.
At the selection trials, Chanu had managed a national record of 192 kg at NIS, Patiala and that effort would have seen her win a silver in Rio.
Gold quest in Gold Coast
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In 2017, after winning the gold medal World weightlifting championship, Chanu would be relieved, happy to get the monkey off her back. Chief national coach Vijay Sharma had rued her inability to perform at major international meets earlier, stating that in training, she had shown all the qualities required to win an Olympic medal.
In Gold Coast on Thursday, Chanu did not slip up, winning her category by a mile and managing a 196 kg. If the 23-year-old continues in this vein of form, she will be a force to reckon with at the Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.