Mirabai Chanu wins weightlifting gold at Commonwealth Games 2022July 31, 2022
A“ Phaad de, Mira” roar from the stand adjacent to the ‘food & bar’ outlet in Hall 1 of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham welcomed Olympic silver medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu to the weightlifting platform on Saturday. The literal meaning of the words will be lost in translation, but it’s safe to assume that a fan of the weightlifter from Manipur was egging her on to tear through the competition in the 49kg class.
And Mirabai, composed as ever, obliged, handing India its first gold medal of Commonwealth Games 2022. She put up a combined total of 201kg. It came with the Commonwealth Record (CR) and Games Record (GR) in snatch (88kg), and the GR in the clean and jerk (113kg).
“I knew the Commonwealth Games was a relatively easy competition for me. Even my coach maintained the same. I never took it easy, though. My fight was against myself. I have a lot of goals in mind. I wanted to give my best performance and it’s good that the records also came along,” Mirabai said after the event.
Marie Hanitra Roilya Ranaivosoa of Mauritius took second place with a combined 172kg (76kg+96kg), and Canada’s Hannah Kaminski took bronze with 171kg (74kg+97kg).
Mirabai, 27, stamped her class in the event. Making her way to the middle after all her opponents were done with their attempts in the snatch, she unassumingly sauntered towards the chalk stand. Then she took a brisk walk and stopped at the centre. Next came her customary bow in front of the barbell, after which she pumped herself up with a shriek.
Mirabai had a successful first lift at 84kg. No sweat. A minute later, she equalled her personal snatch best of 88kg.
Mirabai, who is gearing up for the World Championships in December, was primarily looking forward to hitting the 90kg mark in the snatch in Birmingham. She got the bar loaded at 90kg for the third attempt and gave it a mighty try. She came closer than she had in two earlier competitions but faltered.
“The World Championships is my primary target. Even the Olympic qualifiers are going to be held around the same time, so, I will be focusing on those from now on,” Mirabai said.
Mirabai’s supremacy during the event was a near certainty and it played out as expected. During the interval between the snatch and the clean and jerk sections, the audience cheered on Mirabai every time she popped up on the giant screen. The cameras loved her.
In the clean and jerk section, Mirabai was the only weightlifter to have an entry weight in excess of 100kg. She lifted 109kg in the first attempt and improved to 113kg with her second lift. However, she failed to lift 115kg in her third attempt.
She dedicated her medal to her near and dear ones. “My coach, family, and federation have supported me a lot. Vijay (coach Vijay Sharma) sir has motivated me whenever possible. I have been working on my snatch since Tokyo. I am confident I will do better in the coming days.”
Mirabai’s love for pizza is well-documented. A popular pizza chain had come up with an offer of free pizzas for a lifetime for Mirabai after the Tokyo Olympics. “After the team’s events, I will go back to India and celebrate,” she said. “Training bhi karungi kyunki World Championships hai aur pizza bhi khaungi (I will train for the World Championships and also eat pizza).”