For Mirabai Chanu, it was a case of redemption. The 23-year-old Mamipuri weightlifter, who had a nightmarish experience at the Rio Olympics a year ago, her gold in the 46kg category in the World Championships in Anheim, US, was just the sort of success she was looking forward to. In the process, Mirabai become the only second Indian in 20 years to win a medal at the World Championships after her idol Kunjarani Devi.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Mirabai said the gold medal at the World Championships had been like a balm on her poor Rio performance. “It was disappointing I could not win a medal in Rio Olympics. I made mistakes (in Rio) and I am still sad about that. This medal has erased that sadness. I will work on my weaknesses and try to win medals in CWG and Asian Games next year and Tokyo Olympics.”
She was so much overcome by emotion after her win that she was reduced to tears at the award winning ceremony. “I could not hold back my tears when the tricolor was hoisted and the national anthem was played. I felt that I had won the honour not only for me but also for my country,” she said.
Mirabai also had a special word for her coach Vijay Sharma. “There is no denying the fact that I could not have won the gold medal without the hard effort put in by my coach Vijay Sharma. He (Vijay) played a very big role in me forgetting by Rio experience and he goaded me all along to win the gold at the World Championships. I am very fortunate to get someone like him to help me out,” said Mirabai.
Coming back to her stupendous effort at the World Championships in the US, Mirabai said she was determined to make amends for her disappointment of Rio. ‘At the Rio Olympics, I made some errors. I was cautious this time and wanted to peak at the right time with my lifts. My coach advised me to do the same and the results were there for everyone to see,” she added. Mirabai lifted 85kg in snatch and 109kg in clean and jerk to total an impressive 194kg in the women’s 48kg, in the process setting a new national record.
With her lift of 85kg, Mirabai came second in snatch but bagged the top positions each in clean & jerk and in the overall total to finish with the yellow metal in a field of 20 lifters. Thailand’s Sukcharoen Thunya won the silver with a total lift of 193, while Segura Ana Iris bagged the bronze with 182kg.
It must be mentioned here that Mirabai had finished ninth in the 2015 World Championships while she ended 11th in the 2014 edition. In September, she had booked a berth for next year’s Commonwealth Games after winning gold at the Commonwealth Senior Weightlifting Championships held in Australia. Here she had broken Commonwealth record in snatch event with a lift of 85kg, bettering her own record by a kg.
Mirabai’s performance in the World Championships outing in the USA was very different from the way things panned out in Rio last year when she put up a disappointing performance as she could not get an overall total in women’s 48kg after failing to lift the weight in any of her three attempts in clean & jerk section. In a field of 12 lifters at the Rio Games, she was one of two lifters who did not finish (DNF) her event.
On their part, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted their congratulations on Chanu’s gold-medal winning effort.