New test for Mirabai Chanu at Asian Championships 2019
India’s top woman weightlifter, 2017 World Championships gold medallist Mirabai Chanu, will have to lift in excess of 200kg ---- way above her personal best --- in order to win a medal at the Asian Championships commencing in Ningbo, Chinese from April 19.
Following the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) re-jigging the weight categories for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Chanu --- who till now was competing in the 48kg category --- will have to add substantial weight to her bar in order to excel in the new 49kg division.
Last year, the IWF had altered seven weight categories before the World Championships and also put in place a point-based system for Olympic Games qualification.
The 24-year-old Manipur lifter’s personal best in 48kg is a combined lift of 196, notched during her gold medal-winning performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, while she heaved 194kg on way to gold at the 2017 Worlds in Las Vegas on way to gold.
But the Asian Championships --- a ranking tournament for the 2020 Olympics --- will be a different cup of tea as many lifters, previously competing in 53kg, have moved down to 49kg, giving them a huge advantage.
Though Chanu won gold at the EGAT Cup in Thailand in February this year, after missing the 2018 Worlds and the Jakarta Asian Games due to a back injury, with a total lift of 192, the Ningbo tournament will pose a much bigger challenge. For the record, the gold at the 2018 Worlds in Turkmenistan in 49kg went for 209kg, while the silver and bronze went for 208 and 206kg, respectively.
“Chanu is adjusting well to the new weight category. She is a versatile lifter. Her performance in February indicated she has recovered from the back injury. She should do well in Ningbo,” said coach Vijay Sharma.
As per the new Olympic qualification system, a lifter has to compete in a minimum of two qualifying tournaments in three separate qualifying cycles ---- November 2018 to April 2019, May 2019 to October 2019 and November 2019 to April 2020.
“It’s mandatory for lifters aiming to qualify for Tokyo to compete in six events during the qualification period. The ranking points (based on the total weight lifted) will determine a lifter’s Olympic qualification.
Besides Chanu, Mizoram teenager Jeremy Lalrinnunga too is a 2020 Tokyo hopeful. The Youth Olympic Games medallist in men’s 62kg with a lift of 274kg will compete in 67kg at the Asian Championships. He had to settle for silver in the EGAT Cup with a total lift of 288kg in the new category. However, at the 2018 Worlds, the gold was won with a lift of 332kg, while the silver and bronze went for 323 and 322 respectively.
The IWF’s restriction on the number of quota places for dope-offender countries has left India with just four slots. Countries having between 10-19 positive cases since 2008 will get four berths, while those above 20 will get only two, one each in men’s and women’s section.
India, which is among nine countries to have more than 10 dope offenders, will get four Olympic quota places --- two each in men’s and women’s section.
Men: M. Raja (61kg), Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg), Achinta Sheuli (73kg), Sathish Sivalingam and Ajay Singh (81kg), Vikas Thakur and R.V. Rahul (96kg), Pardeep Singh (102 kg) and Gurdeep Singh (+109 kg).
Women: Jhili Dalabehera (45kg), Mirabai Chanu (49kg), Swati (59kg), Rakhi Halder (64kg).