Mirabai Chanu: Journey from 'Did Not Finish' in Rio to silver medal in Tokyo Olympics
- Tokyo Olympics: Mirabai Chanu's smiles on the podium were hidden due to the mask that she was wearing on her face as part of the Covid-19 protocols at the Games, but those who know her and of her journey to this medal, would know how big it would have been.
It will be a Saturday to remember for the rest of her life. Mirabai Chanu wrote her name in the annals of the country's sporting history by becoming the first Indian weightlifter to win an Olympic silver medal. She is the second Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting, since Karnam Malleswari's bronze in the Sydney Games in 2000.
Chanu's smile on the podium was hidden due to the mask that she was wearing on her face, as part of the Covid-19 protocols at the Games, but those who know her and of her journey to this medal, would know how big it would have been.
The Manipuri athlete, now 26, made her Olympics debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, as a young 21-year-old. But the first big global Games of her life turned into a disaster as she failed to finish in the 48kg category.
Also watch | Tokyo Olympics 2020: India’s Mirabai Chanu wins silver medal in Weightlifting
After failing a lift of 104 kg in her first attempt in clean and jerk, she failed twice in her attempts to pick up 106 kg. In both her second and third attempt, the Indian simply couldn't lift the weight and as a result was one of only two lifters in the pool of 12, who had the term 'Did Not Finish' (DNF) written in front of her name.
A young Chanu had tears in her eyes that day but she didn't let that disappointment bog her down.
A year later Chanu became a world champion as she won the gold medal in the 48 kg category by lifting 194 kg in total (85 kg snatch and 109 kg clean & jerk) in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships held at Anaheim in USA. This effort of her's was also a competition record.
She didn't stop there. Her constant desire to achieve success led Chanu to win the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. A total lift of 196 kg giving her the yellow metal.
Born in a village, that was 200 kilometres away from the state capital of Imphal, a young Mirabai fell in love with the sport of weightlifting when she saw the legendary Kunjarani Devi represent India at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
When she first started practicing in 2007, after finally convincing her parents to let her make the sport her career, she didn't even have proper weights to train with.
That journey led her to breaking her idol's, Kujarani Devi's, national record in 2016 and has now culminated in giving India its very first medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
A definitive story of a phoenix, who rose from the ashes of her disappointment and achieve unmatched success. But this is just the beginning and India expects a lot more from Mirabai Chanu.