Mirabai Chanu in search of truck drivers who dropped her off to training
Long before Mirabai Chanu produced lifts that were strong enough to earn an Olympic silver medal, she would receive lifts from truckers who were kind enough to drop off a young Mirabai to her training centre in Imphal.
Back in Imphal as an Olympic medallist from Tokyo, India’s star weightlifter now wants to meet those sand-carrying truck drivers who provided her regular—and free—transport from her home in the Nongpok Kakching village to the training centre at the Khuman Lampak sports complex in Imphal and lend a helping hand.
“I wanted to see the truckers who provided me regular lifts from home to the training centre and seek their blessing,” the 26-year-old Mirabai said here on Thursday on the sidelines of an event.
“They really helped me during my hard times of training. I’m looking for those sand-carrying truckers so that I can try to extend whatever help they may require now,” she added.
According to Mirabai’s mother Saikhom Ongbi Tombi Devi—who runs a tea stall in the village—the trucks, coming from Etham Moirangpurel area, would pass through the village and give her daughter a lift to Imphal. “As I run a tea stall here, the trucks usually stopped and took her to the centre,” she said.
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The free rides helped Mirabai and her family save up on the transport cost, instead diverting that money into her diet during her training days as a teen.
“The training centre used to be 20-30 kms away from our home,” Mirabai's brother, Saikhom Sanatomba Meitei, told Olympics.com. “Our parents would give her Rs10-20 for her journey. The village is very small and almost everyone knows everyone else. Early morning, trucks used to leave from the market square. We would know which of them is going towards her training centre and would send her with them. She never complained about it. She would go alone every day.”
Mirabai, who won the country’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics, was accorded a hero’s welcome when she returned home on July 27. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh received the weightlifter and handed over a cheque of Rs1 crore.