The 21-year-old from Manipur, who earned her spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 48kg category by winning silver in the selection trials held in Patiala, carries serious hope into the Summer Games.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (born 8 August 1994) is an Indian weightlifter who won silver medal in the women”s 48 kg weight class at the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow by lifting a total of 170 kgs, where as Gold went to Khumukcham Sanjita from India, who lifted a total of 173 kgs, where the gold medal was won by another Indian Khumukcham Sanjita. She hails from Manipur state of India.
After nearly 12 years, a weightlifting national record in the women’s 48 kg category will not be held in the name of Kunjarani Devi.
At the trials to select who will take India’s two quota spots for the Rio Olympics, Mirabai Chanu had lifted 85kg in the snatch and 107kg in the clean and jerk for a total lift of 192 kg. Chanu matched Devi’s record of 107 kg in the clean and jerk and bettered the old record for total lift by 2 kg. This wasn’t the first time Chanu had erased a mark set by Kunjarani Devi, now a coach with the junior team.
At the Asian Championships in Tashkent in April this year, she had broken Devi’s record in the snatch with a lift of 84kg and matched the Indian record for total lift with a combined total of 190kg. But apart from shattering a long standing record, which incidentally saw Devi finish fourth at the Athens Olympics, there is additional significance to Chanu’s effort.
With her performance at the selection trials in Patiala, the 22-year-old has quietly crept into contention for a medal at the Rio Olympics. Chanu’s effort would have been enough to win a bronze at the London Olympics. Even while keeping in mind that the standard of weightlifting has steadily improved, Chanu’s lift is still impressive. If it had been recorded at an international competition, Chanu’s total of 192 kg would have been the fourth best lift of the year.
Competition at the Rio Olympics will undoubtedly be stiffer. Tan Yayun, will likely not even be China’s representative at this year’s competition. She finished only second at the Chinese Olympic trials held before the Asian Championships.
Likely to feature will be 18-year-old Hou Zhihui, who lifted a total of 210kg (94kg +116kg) at the Olympic trials. Indeed China would be sure to have wrapped up all three medals Jiang Huihua, who finished third in the trials with a total of 200kg, is the defending world champion.
However, China can send only four competitors in all categories at the Olympics, which means that only a single participant from the country is likely.
This leaves Chanu ostensibly in with a shot at the silver or bronze medals at Rio. Apart from her rivals among the weightlifting top lifts this year will be Japan’s Hiromi Miyake, who won a silver at the 2012 Olympics and a bronze at the 2015. Going for her fourth Olympics, Miyake recorded a total lift of 193kg (85kg+108kg) at the World Championships in Houston last November.
With so many of her rivals in a tight cluster, Chanu and her coaches know she would have to add a couple of kilos to her total lift before the Rio Olympics.