FROM FIREWOOD-LIFTER TO WEIGHTLIFTER | THE STORY OF SAIKHOM MIRABAI CHANU
The Summer Olympics 2020 started with a stupendous victory for India. The 26 years old weightlifter, Mirabai Chanu bagged the first silver medal in the 49 kg category. A new Olympics record was registered by her name with 115Kgs of weight lifted successfully in the clean and jerk round at the Tokyo Olympics Games. Her victory glorified India and the entire state of Manipur, her native land. With this win, she ended the long wait of 21 years for a medal in weightlifting.
MIRABAI CHANU | FAMILY AND CHILDHOOD
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu who is nicknamed ‘Mira’ was born to Saikhom Kriti Meitei and Saikhom Ongbi Tombi Leimain on 8th August 1994. The 4’11” tall weightlifter has no spotrs background. Her father used to work in public works department on contract and her mother sold samosas in the local streets. Mira has three sisters and two brothers but she is the only one among her siblings who professionally pursued sports. The spirit of a weightlifter sparked for the first time in Mirabai Chanu, when she was 12. She was gone with one of her brothers to collect firewood when lifted a bulky stack of it effortlessly. That incident kindled the wrestler in her. Her mother said in an interview that she was always interested in sports and initially wanted to go for archery. But she wasn’t tall enough for that sport and eventually she pursued weightlifting. Well whatever happens happens for good.Mirabai Chanu apart from a weightlifter worked as a ticket collector and on April 2018 she was promoted as an officer on Special duty at the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
THE COMMENDABLE GURUS
It was in the year 2007 when Mirabai made a decision to join Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal to pursue weightlifting seriously. Kunjarani Devi, a 7-time world champion silver medalist and national coach in weightlifting was the one who inspired her. Mira’s career in weight lifting under the guardianship of Anita Chanu gradually began to launch. In 2009 she won her first gold medal at a state-level championship in weightlifting in a sub-junior category. In 2011 exactly after two years she bagged herself the first National Medal in Junior National Championship in weight lifting. Mirabai Chanu, after this victory came under the guidance of none other than Kunjari Devi, her inspirer and went on to the South Asian Games. There, with the teachings and the blessings of her inspiration-cum-Guru she won her first International Gold Medal in weightlifting. Not only that she also bagged another Gold Medal in the same year at the 2011 International Youth Championships. This year in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics she was trained by Vijay Sharma and she successfully lived up to the expectations of her coach.
FROM RIO TO TOKYO
In Rio de Janerio, Brazil, Mirabia Chanu made her debut into the Olympics in 2016. But unfortunately she received an DNF(Did Not Finish) against her name for failing to lift the weight in three attempts in the C&J section. The defeat was distressing but she wasn’t disheartened. She diligently practiced day and night and finally made a historic comeback in Tokyo Olympics. In the Tokyo 2020 Olympics game Mirabai Chanu bagged the silver for herself by lifting a total of 202Kg, 87-Kg in snatch and 115-Kg in Clean & Jerk (C&J).
|Year||Location||48-KG Total||48-Kg Snatch||48-Kg C&J||49-Kg Total||49-Kg Snatch||49-Kg C&J|
|2019||Pattaya,THA||–||–||–||4th (201)||5th (87)||4th (114)|
|2017||Anaheim,CA,USA||1st (194)||2nd (85)||1st(109)||–||–||–|
|2015||Huston,TX,USA||9th (183)||9th (81)||12th (102)||–||–||–|
|2014||Almaty, Kaz||11th (172)||13th (76)||9th (96)||–||–||–|
|Year||Location||49-Kg Total||49-Kg Snatch||49-Kg C&J|
|2020||Tashkent,UZB||3rd (205)||4th (86)||1st (119)|
|2019||Ningbo,CHN||4th (119)||4th (86)||1st (119)|
C&J – Clean and Jerk, (-)-no valid result, DSQ- Disqualified.
FALICITAIONS AND AWARDS
- Mirabai Chanu was presented with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in September 2018 which is India’s highest sporting honor.
- She received Padma Shri Award in 2018, the fourth highest civilian award in India.
In 2017 she was named Weight Lifter of the Year at the Times of India Sports Award (TOISA).
- In 2013 Mirabai was named Best Lifter at the National Junior Championships held in Guwahati, India.
- After Mirabai Chanu’s Tokyo Olyimpics 2020 victory in the weightlifting competition the Union Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw announced a reward of 2 Crore rupees and a promotion in the NFR.
- The Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh also announced a cash reward of 1 Crore rupees after her clinching victory at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
- Government of India awarded Mira with 50 Lakh rupees after winning at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics .
PROPER DIET IS A MUST BUT PIZZA IS LOVE
For her dream to come true in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 in weightlifting Mirabai Chanu not only did dorigorous practice and extensive training but she had sacrificed a lot in terms of her diet and she has recently turned into a complete vegetarian. Giving up on her favorite junk food was not easy Mirabai Chanu said that for two days prior to her competition she could not eat anything. So to compensate she treated herself with a pizza on the winning night. Seeing this, the fast food giant chain in India Domino’s had offered to provide her free pizza for life. To celebrate her win the food giant executives also sent pizzas to her home in Impahl. Sharing her excitement on that life time offer Mira said that pizza has been her favorite dish since a long time. She was also treated to pizza on her reception function with several union ministers.
Currently Mirabia endorses Adidas apparel and has done digital engagements with Mobil. Her brand value is now expected to shoot up. Several brands have congratulated her but it’s unclear for now which ones will lap her for endorsement deals eventually.
THE WEIGHTLIFTER AT EASE
Mirabai Chanu likes to dance whenever she is too tired or overly stressed out; she locks herself up in a room and breaks her leg. Her favorite Bollywood actor is Salman Khan because she likes the way he is conscious about this health and fitness just like she does for weightlifting.