India’s star weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu will be one of the country’s brightest medal prospects at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Hailing from Nongpok Kakching, a village about 20 kilometres from the capital city of Imphal, Mirabai Chanu is the only Indian who has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the weightlifting event.

The 26-year-old is aiming to become just the second Indian to win a medal in the weightlifting category since Karnam Malleswari bagged the country’s first-ever Olympic medal in weightlifting at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

How did Mirabai Chanu qualify for the Tokyo Olympics?

The Manipur-born girl secured automatic qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as she is ranked second on the Absolute Ranking list issued by the International Weightlifting Federation. Earlier, Chanu was placed fourth on the list, however, North Korea’s withdrawal from the Summer Games helped her to move to second spot.

How did Mirabai Chanu fare at previous Olympics?

While Mirabai Chanu was touted as a serious medal contender in her maiden Olympics in Rio 2016, she had a rather disastrous outing as the then 21-year-old had failed to lift on all three of her attempts in the clean and jerk section. 

How has Mirabai Chanu performed in the last five years?

Since then, the girl from Manipur has come a long way, winning a gold medal in the women's 48 kg category at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships held in the United States. Mirabai Chanu became the first Indian woman in two decades to clinch a gold medal at the World Championships.

The Indian star weightlifter continued her incredible form by winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2018. Chanu lifted 86kg in snatch and 110kg in clean and jerk to bag gold for the country.

In 2019 soon after recovering from a lower back injury, she claimed the EGAT Cup in Thailand by completing lifts of 82kg in snatch and 110kg in clean and jerk.

Competing in her first international competition in over a year at the Asian Championship 2021 held in April, Mirabai Chanu smashed the world record as she lifted 119kg in clean and jerk. She also completed her second-best attempt in the snatch section (86kg) to claim bronze, which is also her best-combined effort of 205kg.

Can Mirabai Chanu end India’s 20-year Olympic medal drought in weightlifting?

Since crashing out of the Rio Olympics in 2016, Mirabai Chanu has come leaps and bounds. She heads into the Tokyo Olympics brimming with confidence after winning bronze at the Asian Championship in Tashkent.

Furthermore, with North Korea pulling out from the Tokyo 2020 and countries such as Thailand and Malaysia denied participation on account of multiple doping charges, Mirabai Chanu will be a strong contender to win a medal in the women’s 49kg weightlifting category.

Featured photo: Twitter/Gold Coast 2018