New Delhi: Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will compete in the Commonwealth Games later this year in a new weight class – 55kg – to maximize India’s chances of winning more gold medals in the multi-sport event in Birmingham.
Hanu has achieved great success competing in the 49kg weight class, including winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She also holds the world record for 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.
However, head coach Vijay Sharma and the Indian Weightlifting Federation believe the 27-year-old has a better chance of winning the gold medal in the 55kg category in the 2022 CWG than compatriot Sorokhaibam Bindyarani Devi, who won silver at the Commonwealth Championships in December ended.
“We (coach and federation) had a meeting and discussed that India should bring back medals in all weight categories for women in the 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Chanu told PTI.
“There is a chance of 4-5 gold medals and that’s why we decided I’m going to go to 55kg. So we can win one there,” added Chanu, who is a two-time CWG medalist.
India still has a gold medal contender in the 49kg in Jhilli Dalabehera, who won silver in the Commonwealth Championships.
Chanu should be a guaranteed gold medalist in 49 kg, but now she will have to work hard to win gold in 55 kg.
“I will have to work very hard, I will have to increase the weight (I lift) because it will be competitive (in 55 kg). I will not increase my weight, I will keep it at 50kg-51kg, which is my natural weight,” said Chanu, who has a personal best of 207kg (88kg + 119kg).
With the Asian Games slated to start just a month after the Birmingham CWG (July 28 to August 8), little Manipuri is not yet sure whether she will switch back to the 49kg class or continue in 55kg in the continental event.
“I have not yet decided in which weight category I will participate in the Asian Games. I’ll decide after CWG. If all goes well, I can continue with 55 kg,” she added.
Chanu will be seen in action for the first time since her landmark appearance in Tokyo at the Singapore Weightlifting International later this month, where she will attempt to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in her new category.
Manipur’s hitchhiker is adapting her jerking technique and she hopes this will also help her solve her imbalance problem and prevent injuries.
“I focus more on snatch because that’s my weakness. Snatch is all about technique, so that’s what I’m working on; I’m trying to change it up a little bit.”
This new technique will not be easy. But maybe improving my technique a little bit can solve my imbalance problem and also reduce the risk of injury, she said.
Chanu’s struggle in the jerk section due to an imbalance affecting her right shoulder and back is nothing new. She greatly benefited from consulting Dr. Aaron Horschig, a former weightlifter who later served as a physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach in the United States ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
Chanu would like to see Dr. Visiting Horschig again for rehabilitation and endurance training.
“We are in talks to go in March, which is our off-season. I’m going there with the rehabilitation and technique in mind. But it’s not confirmed yet.”
As part of the famous Impossible is Nothing campaign, Adidas presents and celebrates the stories of inspiring female athletes who have done extraordinary things to encourage women in sport. The campaign is close to Chanu’s heart.
There has been a change of mindset, people are now encouraging women to exercise and Adidas has supported this a lot. Previously, it was not known how much hard work has been put in by the players. This campaign shows that. It motivates women, which is very important.”
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