File image of Mirabai Chanu.(Getty Images)
File image of Mirabai Chanu.(Getty Images)

Lifter Mirabai Chanu to consult US expert for back problem

Mirabai Chanu missed the Jakarta Asian Games and the world championships that followed due to lower back pain.
New Delhi | By Avishek Roy
UPDATED ON SEP 30, 2020 01:29 PM IST

When Mirabai Chanu visits the US in October she will be hoping the trip helps overcome a long-standing back problem. With the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, the Indian weightlifting medal hope is looking to regain top shape.

Chanu, the 2017 world championships gold medallist, triumphed at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but missed the Jakarta Asian Games and the world championships that followed due to lower back pain.

She made a strong comeback in 2019, lifting 192kg to win the 49kg gold at EGAT Cup in Thailand and claim the title at the Commonwealth Championships. The back problem though keeps flaring up in training despite undergoing rehabilitation with physiotherapists.

Chanu and her team have now sought the help of Dr. Aaron Horschig, a physio and strength and conditioning coach based in St Louis, US. Horschig, a former lifter, has spent over a decade competing in Olympic weightlifting and coaching. He is the founder of Squat University and specialises in providing bio-mechanical solutions to weightlifters and powerlifters for injuries and pains.

“We were looking for someone who can deal with the specific nature of the back problem,” says Chanu’s coach Vijay Sharma.

“It is an old problem. Though she has not had trouble in competition, in training she sometimes faces the problem. We reduce the training load then. It looks like it has more to do with the biomechanics of the body. If the muscle is weak on one side, it tries to compensate for the overload on the other side.”

Chanu, who entered the 48kg class at the 2016 Rio Olympics and won the 2017 world championships in that division, now competes in the re-jigged 49kg class. The 25-year-old has pushed herself with each competition. At the 2019 world championships, she lifted 201 kg and at the national championships in February, she bettered her personal mark by lifting 203 kg (87kg snatch, 114kg clean and jerk). She needs to still raise the load to be sure of an Olympic medal. At the world championships, she missed the bronze, won by North Korea’s Ri Song Gum who lifted 204kg.

With the Tokyo Olympics almost 10 months away, Chanu has time to sort out the back problem. “We cannot ignore it if she has to perform at the optimum level. At the Olympics, it will be about small margins and we need to take everything into account to enhance her performance,” says Sharma.

The Sports Authority of India’s Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) sanctioned R40 lakh on Monday for the lifter’s two-month training and rehab stint in the US.

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