Games & medals
Rio de Janeiro 2016
|#AC||Weightlifting||Flyweight (≤48 kilograms)|
Saikhom MIRABAI CHANU biography
From lifting firewood as a kid to being elevated onto international podiums, weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu's story is one of a remarkable rise.
Mirabai Chanu sprung to international prominence at the age of 20, when she bagged the silver medal in the 48kg category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
Then at the national trials for the Rio 2016 Olympics, Mirabai Chanu broke a 12-year-old national record held by seven-time World championships medallist Kunjarani Devi to book her place in the Indian team for the Games.
The record aside, her total of 192kg at the selection trials would position Mirabai Chanu as a medal contender at the Rio Olympics.
But in Brazil, Mirabai Chanu failed to flourish, unable to execute any of her three attempts in 'clean and jerk' and only one correct effort in the 'snatch'.
Returning home with a DNF (Did not Finish) against her name, was not what Mirabai Chanu had in mind - but the Indian weightlifter has always had to show her mental fortitude alongside her physical strength.
Born in a family with limited means and the youngest among six siblings in Nongpok Kakching, a village in Imphal, Chanu’s lifting prowess was first noted when she was around 12, able to lift and carry home a bundle of firewood that was way too heavy for her brother, four years her senior.
Always drawn to sports, Mirabai Chanu had initially wanted to take up archery until stumbling into a weighlifting hall at a local sports hall in Imphal.
The firewood she carried would prove fuel for her ambitions - a natural at the sport, she quickly had an idol to try and emulate, finding inspiration from the exploits of India's most decorated female weightlifter, Kunjarani Devi.
At the 2017 World Weightlifting Championship in Anaheim, USA, Mirabai Chanu became the first Indian weighlifter in over two decades to claim a gold medal. Her effort in the 48kg category was the first since Sydney 2000 bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari’s title runs in 1994 and 1995.
She followed that up with a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, an event that saw her smash the Games record in ‘snatch’, ‘clean and jerk’ and ‘total’. But an injury to her lower-back would draw curtains on what was shaping up for a spectacular season.
It meant that Chanu had to sit out of the Asian Games and the World Championships in 2018, and then spend nearly a year away from the floor, recuperating from the injury.
It was only in 2019 that Chanu returned to compete at the World Championships in Thailand. She could only manage a fourth-place finish, but it was a memorable outing at the Pattaya event as she breached the 200kg mark for the first time in her career.