Paris Olympics: Mirabai wants to stay injury-free as a second medal beckons

Like Tokyo, I will again count on the prayers of all Indians, Manipur ace says

Mirabai Chanu, silver medallist in Tokyo Olympics (photo: NH)
Mirabai Chanu, silver medallist in Tokyo Olympics (photo: NH)

NH Sports Bureau

It was Mirabai Chanu who started India’s best-ever medal harvest in Olympics (seven) with a silver medal in Tokyo three years ago. However, her pursuit of becoming the first Indian weightlifter to win two Olympics medals since then hasn’t been easy – being beset with injuries at critical junctures in the last few years.

A hip injury at the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023 sidelined Mirabai, set for her third Olympics in Paris, for five months. Back in the arena, the 30-year-old ace took part in only one competition this year – the World Cup where she finished 12th with a combined lift of 184 kilos. That effort, however, was good enough for her to secure a spot in Paris.

Speaking to the SAI media, the ever-smiling Manipuri said her biggest challenge from now on to 7 August will be to keep herself injury-free and finetune a few technical aspects because  “competition in the 49 kg division is going to be very tough this time.” She, of course, has American physio Dr Aaron Horschig and longtime national coach Vijay Sharma keeping a close eye on her progress as she is the only Indian weightlifter to have won an Olympic quota this time.

Asked to break down her goals, Mirabai said on the sidelines of her camp at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports at Patiala that it would be improving her technique to lift at least 90 kg in snatch. Mirabai’s personal best in snatch is 88 kgs, an effort that helped her win the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham with a combined lift of 201 kg that included 113 kg in clean and jerk.

After a horror debut at Rio 2016, Mirabai had often bounced back from serious injuries to make impressive comebacks at global competitions. She became the first lifter in 22 years to become a world champion in 2017. The gold at Commonwealth Games in 2018 in Gold Coast followed and after narrowly missing a medal at the 2019 Worlds, she created history at the 2020 Asian championships in China. In clean and jerk, Mirabai lifted a world record 119 kgs at Ningbo, China.

“After the Asian Games injury, the World Cup was my first competition. I was certainly apprehensive about picking up another injury as I didn’t want to spoil my Paris chances. For me, injury management and staying stress free will be important. I have to do the things that helped me recover. Injuries and pain are companions for us - you never know when they will strike,’’ Mirabai said.

Mirabai and her team will be off to Le Ferte-Milon in France in the first week of July and will have almost a month to acclimatize ahead of the Summer Games. She says there is a direct relation between fitness and technique and every muscle plays a part in lifting weights.

“Weightlifting is a sum of many parts. Lot of gym exercises are required as every body part plays it role. Certain muscles like the back, knee and shoulder have to be in perfect condition. Muscle strength matters a lot to lift weights over 200 kgs. More importantly, I can’t skip training. If I leave training for a day, it will take a week for me to recover and bring my muscles to perfect state,’’ the pocket sized powerhouse says.

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) of the Union Sports Ministry and other athlete funding programmes has invested over Rs 2.7 crores for her training in the Paris cycle and it’s payback time for Mirabai.

“For any weightlifter to take part in two Olympics is a big thing. To compete at the world level is tough. Like Tokyo, I will again count on the prayers of all Indians and of course, it’s going to be God’s wish on that day in Paris. It will be a dream for me and my family to win a second Olympic medal but I also know that even the best of preparation can fail. So, let’s hope for the best,” she signed off.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines