Sanjita Chanu won India’s second gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Friday, and became only the second woman weightlifter ever from the country to win gold at two different editions of the Commonwealth Games.
Kunjarani Devi was the first, as Sanjita won the 53-kg category by a comfortable margin of 10 kilos over Loa Dika Toua of Papua New Guinea.
Similar to Mirabai Chanu, Sanjita had set India off on their way at Glasgow four years earlier when she had won the country’s first gold medal on day one. Mirabai could only watch as she managed a silver.
On that occasion, the 20-year-old had come into the Games on the back of two Commonwealth championships victories and it was no different on this occasion, as the Manipuri lifter sealed her place in Gold Coast on the back of a victory at the Commonwealth and Oceania weightlifting championships in the same city in September.
(For more updates from day two, read our live blog here.)
“Because of this injury I still cannot train too hard. I have been lucky to get good support which has kept me motivated,” said the lifter.
“My back injury was a concern before coming here too, I have barely trained for 15 days for this competition. I am still 10 per cent lacking in fitness. The physio has been working on me outside the competition arena,” she broke down after the competition.
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Her Glasgow victory should have been a springboard to greater glory but Sanjita’s form dipped drastically and she fell behind Mirabai in the 48 kg category, also failing to qualify for the Olympics.
The Indian Railways employee had then shifted to the 53 kg category where she finished 13th at last year’s World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim. There, she faltered badly, only making one of her three lifts in snatch and only three overall, finishing with 177 kgs overall, way down on her overall best.
Injured in the run-up to the Games, Chanu could only finish second at the National Weightlifting Championships at Moodabiri in Karnataka. She was overlooked for the Arjuna Awards last year and filed a writ petition against the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, despite having ‘better achievements’ than those awarded.
Like Mirabai, Sanjita is also inspired by Kunjarani Devi.