Former world champion Mirabai Chanu has requested the Sports Authority of India to provide her with a strength and conditioning coach who will help her in injury management, PTI reported.

The 25-year-old made the request under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, which was forwarded by the Indian Weightlifting Federation to SAI in March before the Indian government imposed a nationwide lockdown to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

“There are a lot of chances of injury in weightlifting so I had requested TOPS committee for a strength and conditioning coach before the lockdown,” Mirabai told PTI.

Mirabai had suffered a lower back injury after the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Doctors across the country were unable to diagnose the cause, forcing the Manipuri to stay out of action for about nine months, missing the 2018 Asian Games and the World Championships.

“Weightlifters use coercion to lift weights, so there are more chances of us injuring ourselves. A strength and conditioning coach will help keep our muscles fit,” she said.

A strength and conditioning coach is a physical performance professional, who uses exercise prescription to improve the performance of athletes by using strength training, aerobic conditioning etc and plays a vital role in the rehabilitation process.

“If you expect the lifters to perform at such a high level, churn out world class performances, then a strength and conditioning is a must,” national coach Vijay Sharma said. “They not only help during rehab but also help make the small muscles in the body stronger,” he added.

Most of the top level weightlifters across the world have a strength and conditioning coach at their disposal but it will be the first time Indian weightlifters will receive the services of one. “China has two of them, one from England and one from USA. We have also requested for a foreign strength and conditioning coach,” Sharma said.

IWLF General Secretary Sahdev Yadav said the process of hiring was delayed due to the lockdown. “We had forwarded the request to SAI. We will have to publish an advertisement for it on our website and then people can apply, which will be followed by the interview process (of shortlisted candidates). It has been delayed due to the lockdown,” he added.

Mirabai, who competes in the 49kg category, is a sure-shot for the Tokyo Games and is seen as a medal contender. She currently occupies third place in the women’s 49kg world rankings following the cancellation of the Asian Championships, the last Olympic qualifying event of the continent.