New Delhi: The rejection of Mirabai Chanu’s 55kg entry for the upcoming Commonwealth Games by the International Weightlifting Federation will not affect India’s medal chances in the Birmingham event, head coach Vijay Sharma said on Thursday.
The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) had wanted to field Hanu in the 55kg weight division with Jhilli Dalabehera and S Bindyarani Devi competing in the 49kg and 59kg respectively, while Poppy Hazarika would compete in the 64kg division of the CWG, which will be held from July 28 to August 8.
The move was aimed at maximizing India’s medal from the CWG.
But the submissions were rejected based on a new rule stating that the top-ranked lifter in a category qualifies for the CWG. But if he/she pulls back, the next best hitchhiker will not get the berth, as was the case before.
The 27-year-old Chanu will now compete in the 49 kg category.
Chanu had qualified for the CWG in 49 kg, in which she won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year for her top position, as well as the 55 kg weight class, for which she entered a qualifier.
“They rejected the submission saying that a hitchhiker can compete in that category where they have given their best,” Sharma told PTI from St. Louis, US, where he oversees Chanu’s training.
Chanu has only competed in the 55kg weight class once before – last month at the Singapore Weightlifting International, a qualifying event for the CWG. Bindyarani is the highest ranked Indian in this division.
We tried that she (Chanu) qualified in both categories. But the rule has changed. CGF has introduced a new rule that only the top-ranked lifters can qualify in the category, not the second-ranked.
In the Olympics, too, the rule was that if you withdraw one lifter, the other lift in the same weight class qualifies, Sharma said.
This means that Chanu, Bindya and Poppy will now each move back one weight class to 49kg, 55kg and 59kg respectively, leaving India without a lifter to compete in the 64kg division.
But Sharma is confident that the development will not change India’s medal hopes.
We didn’t have a lifter who could qualify for 64kg, it’s a very difficult category. That’s why we planned this, with Jhilli in 49kg, Mira in 55kg and Bindya in 59kg we would have won three medals,” he said.
Before that, we hadn’t hoped for the 64 kg weight class. It was just to field a hitchhiker. The chances of winning a medal in the women’s event were only in these three categories (49kg, 55kg and 59kg) and they are still there.
Chanu has had great success in the 49kg weight class, including winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She also holds the world record clean and jerk in this weight class.
Before that, she competed in the 48kg class and won the world championship gold in 2017. She also won 48kg silver and gold in the 2014 and 2018 CWG respectively.
Bindyarani won silver at the Commonwealth Championship in the 55kg event last December.
India is the driving force at the Commonwealth level. At the 2018 edition, the Indians had returned with a haul of nine medals – five gold, two silver and the same number of bronze.
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