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Mirabai Chanu: Indian Weightlifting’s Lone Ranger At Tokyo Olympics

Star Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu has emerged as a strong contender in the women’s 49kg category in the run up to the Olympics, making her one of the brightest medal prospects at the Tokyo Games. The lone Indian weightlifter to qualify for the Tokyo Games, Chanu will be eager to make amends for the disappointing show at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she had failed to record a legal lift in any of her three attempts in clean and jerk and thus could not get an overall total in women’s 48kg.

Here’s a look at Chanu’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Chanu’s comeback from the dismal show at the Rio Games five years ago has been a remarkable one to say the least.

Not only did she silence her detractors by winning the gold in the world championship in 2017 and the Commonwealth Games a year later, the diminutive Manipuri also overcame an unspecified back problem, which marred her progress in 2018, and changed her weight category to 49kg from her original 48 kg after the international federation decided to introduce new categories in the sport in the run up to the Tokyo Games.

What had led to her downfall in the Rio Games — the clean and jerk — has now become Chanu’s strength. The 26-year-old has consistently improved in the section to stay in contention for medals at top events.

In fact, Chanu currently holds the world record in clean and jerk in the women’s 49kg category. She successfully lifted 119kg in the Asian Championships, her last tournament ahead of the Tokyo Games, in April to win the gold medal in the section and an overall bronze.

The performance is bound to boost her confidence when she heads into the weightlifting arena on July 24.

While Chanu’s superior display in clean and jerk has helped her stay at par with her opponents in recent tournaments, her performance in the snatch event has often proved to be her achilles heel.

The 26-year-old has, self-admittedly, struggled while lifting weights in the snatch due to her shoulder injury.

At the recent Asian Championships, Chanu failed to hoist 85kg in her first two snatch attempts and was in danger of getting knocked out of the competition before she successfully lifted 86kg in her final attempt.

However, the effort was a whopping 10kg less than Chinese lifter Hou Zhihui’s world record lift of 96kg at the same competition. Chanu’s personal best in snatch is 88kg, which she lifted at the national championship in February last year.


Chanu is aware of her weakness and has been working on it with Dr. Aaron Horschig, a former weightlifter turned physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach.

She has reached Tokyo after undergoing a 50-day training stint in St Louis, USA.

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