Mirabai Chanu Photograph:( Reuters )
Chanu finished behind the Olympic champion Hou Zhihui of China, who set an Olympic record with a lift of 210 kgs (94+116).
Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won a silver medal in Weightlifting Women's 49kg category and opened India's medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. As the entire nation is in celebration mode, Chanu opened up about her journey while speaking exclusively to WION's Digvijay Singh Deo.
The 26-year-old Mirabai Chanu managed a total lift of 202 kgs (87kgs in snatch + 115 kgs in clean and jerk) to claim the silver medal. She opened up about the moment when she stood at the podium with her silver medal. She said, "I came here after years of hard work and when I stood on the podium, I forgot about the fatigue for some time as it's like a dream come true." Chanu finished behind the Olympic champion Hou Zhihui of China, who set an Olympic record with a lift of 210 kgs (94+116). Indonesia’s Aisah Windy Cantika took the bronze medal with an effort of 194kg (84+110).
Watch the interview here:
Chanu lifted 84kg and 87kg successfully. She began with a 84kg lift in her first attempt in the snatch segment and went on to improve with an 87kg lift. However, she failed to lift 89kg as she was placed in the second spot.
It was a historic feat for Chanu as her win came two decades after Indian trailblazer Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal (Bronze) while competing at the 2000 Sydney Games in the women’s 69kg weight category. On being asked about her performance, Chanu said, "When I go for the lift, I think about focussing on giving my best performance and if everything goes as planned, the medal will automatically come."
The Manipur-born weightlifter spoke about the setback she had received in the Rio Olympics and said she was "very sad" but her coach and federation guided her. In 2016, Chanu suffered heartbreak at the Rio Games as she failed to get an overall total in the women's 48kg category after being unable to register a successful lift in any of her three attempts in clean and jerk. She said family and friends consoled her and also tried to convince her to look forward and plan for future tournaments.
Mirabai has won multiple accolades as she has been conferred the Arjuna Award, honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2018, and the Padma Shri. Chanu's coach Vijay Sharma said that the honour was a "boost-up". He also mentioned the discipline that's needed to win medals at such events. He said, "just raw talent is not enough. Alongside the talent, the athletes always need the discipline and a hunger to reach the Olympics podium otherwise, it becomes really difficult."
Mirabai Chanu also said that she was extremely happy to receive a call from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi had also tweeted moments after she had won the medal. He wrote, "Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting. Her success motivates every Indian." He also added that he couldn't have asked for a happier start to the Olympics 2020 and mentioned that India is elated by Chanu's "stupendous performance".
Chanu also said that now, she wants to go home as she has not been able to due to the preparation for the Olympics but firmly mentioned that she will continue to train as there is a lot yet to achieve.