Mirabai Chanu is the poster girl of India; wins first gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
Before Day 1 of the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Mirabai Chanu's biggest win came when she won the gold medal in the 48kg category at the World Weightlifting Championship at Anaheim, United States in 2017. Fast forward a few months, and she has done one better. The Manipuri weightlifter shattered seven records on the way to making India proud at the Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. She won the gold medal in the women’s 48kg weightlifting category.
"I was not expecting to break records but I certainly wanted to break them when I came here. I can't put in words, how it feels right now. "I can only say that I have worked really hard to achieve this. I am very happy. This is my second CWG medal, it is such a good feeling," Chanu told PTI. "My next target is the Asian Games, I want to better this as well. It will be very tough and I have to work really hard for it. There was hardly any competition here but I still had to give my best. The Asian region is the toughest in weightlifting because there is China and Thailand. But I am confident of a good performance," she added.
Marie Ranaivosoa of Mauritius won the silver medal with a total lift of 170kg. The bronze medal went to Sri Lanka’s Dinusha Gomes with a total lift of 155kg.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu first came into the limelight when she won the silver medal back at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She then became only the second Indian - the first being Karnam Malleswari back in 1995 - ever to win a gold medal at the World Weightlifting Championships. Back then, the 23-year-old lifted a combined 194kg. Chanu delivered a performance for the ages. Chanu went from 80kg to 84kg to 86kg - exceeding her personal best of 85kg - in three attempts in the snatch.
In the clean and jerk section, she lifted 103kg, 107kg and 110kg - two more than her previous best and more than two times her body weight - to easily win the competition. Her combined total of 196kg was another Commonwealth and Commonwealth Games' record, smashing the previous Games' record of 175kh set in 2010 by Augustine Nwaokolo of Nigeria.
Hailing from Imphal, Chanu took up wrestling back in 2007, at the age of just thirteen, after being inspired by weightlifter Kunjarani Devi. Chanu had won gold medals at various junior levels - South Asian Junior Games and the 2011 International Youth Championships.
Chanu had an excellent shot at a medal during the Rio Olympics in 2016 but the occasion got the better of her as she failed all her three clean and jerk attempts, missing out on any chance of a medal. She came home from Brazil, empty-handed with her dreams of success on the world's biggest stage, shattered.
She almost quit weightlifting post that major disappointment. "I was really low after the Olympics. It took me a lot of time to get over the disappointment. I even thought of giving up the sport and stop training. The comments in social media, the criticism against my coach really hurt me," Chanu told PTI after the Rio Olympics. Post the Rio Olympics, Chanu refocused and clinched gold at the Senior National Weightlifting Championships. She has never looked back.
After the Weightlifting Championships last October, Chanu finally acknowledged that the pressure upon her to performance has now gone away. Going into the Asian Games later this year and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, Chanu is a favourite to win gold at both those events. Chanu was also been awarded the Padma Shri earlier this year.
This is India’s second medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. P Gururaja won a silver medal in the men’s 56kg weightlifting category.