Karnam Malleswari, who broke new ground and made history in 2000 when she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal, believes Mirabai Chanu is on course to emulate her achievement at Tokyo 2020.
Mirabai Chanu, who went from lifting firewood to weightlifting, pushed herself to the next level at the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships in September before clinching the gold medal at the sixth Qatar International Cup in December.
The recent performances were enough for Karnam Malleswari to back the 24-year-old ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
“I am expecting Mirabai Chanu to perform very well at the Olympics this year,” Karnam Malleswari told IANS. “She learned a lot at the last Olympics, and I am sure she will win a medal this year.”
After qualifying for the Rio Olympics in the women's 48kg category, the Manipuri athlete had failed in all her three attempts in the clean and jerk section but her experiences since then could come into play at the 2020 Olympics.
“In Tokyo, no doubt Mirabai Chanu will do well,” Karnam Malleswari, who had bagged a bronze in the 69kg weightlifting category at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, had told PTI after the Qatar International Cup performance. “She has been performing well for the past three years. I am sure she'll bring a medal.”
Mirabai Chanu’s progress since Rio 2016
Mirabai Chanu had bounced back from the setback at the 2016 Olympic Games with a gold medal in the 48kg category in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships at Anaheim in the United States.
She followed that feat with another gold medal for India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, breaking the Games record and marking her personal best as well.
From there, she moved on to the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships where she recorded a personal best and capped off the year with a gold at the Qatar International Cup.
Karnam Malleswari hails more opportunities
Karnam Malleswari feels that growing exposure in recent years, thanks to more and more competitions, has been very positive for Indian weightlifting.
“Now there are youth, junior and senior weightlifting competitions,” she observed. “When we were in the junior category, we didn't go for any international tournaments. Now athletes have a chance to participate at the Youth Olympics as well.”
Mirabai Chanu will be participating next at the 2020 National Weightlifting Championships, which is set to get underway at the Khudiram Anusilan Kendra in Kolkata on Monday, February 3.