Considering Mirabai Chanu’s credentials and stature, the World Championships silver she gained in Bogota, Colombia, on Wednesday wasn’t in reality a wonder. The 28-year-old weightlifter, in the end, is a dominant drive within the 49 kg department, but even so being a former global champion and an Olympic silver medalist. However, when she calls it a “dream come true,” you understand the World’s silver is a bit more than but any other addition to her embellished trophy cupboard.
Chanu lifted a complete of 200kg (87kg in take hold of and 113kg in blank and jerk) to get the simpler of reigning Olympic champion Hou Zhihui, whose tally of 198kg (89kg +109kg) gained her the bronze. Another Chinese, Jiang Huihua, gained her 3rd World Championships gold with a mixed raise of 206kg (93kg+113kg).
It used to be the primary example of Chanu beating a Chinese lifter at a high-level festival, a trademark of the rustic’s absolute dominance within the game. The 2017 World Championships that Chanu gained noticed no Chinese illustration as their federation used to be then serving a doping ban. At the Tokyo Olympics, Chanu used to be bested by means of Zhihui who lifted an Olympic report 210 kgs.
“It feels extra special to beat an Olympic champion, more so a Chinese. However, I was a bit shocked to see the weights she was lifting,” Chanu stated, relating to the ‘modest’ 89kgs Zhihui snatched.
“I mean she is an Olympic champion. She did 94 kgs in Tokyo and I thought she’ll go for that range again. An athlete has her good and bad days, so maybe she was coming off a niggle or hadn’t trained properly. Personally, it was always a dream to beat the Chinese in such a competition. It is my first win over a Chinese lifter; a dream come true,” the 28-year-old stated.
Chanu’s pleasure is comprehensible. The Chinese, merely put, are a bonafide weightlifting powerhouse. They are the joint maximum a success weightlifting country on the Olympics (tied with erstwhile Soviet Union on 62 medals), Asian Games (128 medals; Iran, the following easiest, have 45 fewer), Asian Championships (491 medals. Iran and Kazakhstan are subsequent with 165 every), and the World Championships (317 medals. The Soviet Union trails at 274). They have led the weightlifting medal rely on the Olympics at each version this century.
Chanu, although, stays in large part unaffected by means of the historical past and hysteria across the Chinese. Their stranglehold has, in reality, driven her to lift the bar — actually and metaphorically.
“China has been super strong in this sport for years, but that has somehow never affected me. I have always thought if Chinese girls can lift so much, so can I. There was never a mental block, but since I hadn’t beaten them so far, it was always a dream to get the better of them. Now that I have beaten one of them to take silver, the goal is to beat them and win gold. The gap is closing.
“In every major competition, we know there will be two if not three, world-class Chinese. Lifters from Thailand and Korea are also quite good. Usually, it’s a three-way fight between me, the Chinese, and the Koreans. So, my preparations are done accordingly,” Chanu said.
“I’d like to believe that this silver, and beating a Chinese, are a big boost to Indian weightlifting as a whole. It’s an important medal. I missed the 2021 Worlds, so I wanted to make up for that,” she added .
What makes her feat extra special is the fact that Chanu was struggling with an injured left wrist. The injury, she said, was a result of overburdening of the muscles during training. After her second snatch was deemed a ‘no lift’, she knew she had to lift “87-88 kgs at least” to give her a shot at the medal.
She went for an 87 kg snatch again, this time wearing a wristband to support the weaker muscles, but the pain kicked in again.
“The pain is sporadic. Sometimes the wrist feels absolutely fine, but sometimes the pain is so much that gripping an unweighted barbell is impossible. It’s particularly troubling during snatch where a closed grip means more engagement of the wrist. When you receive the snatch, That’s when the pain really hits. Then, even gripping the bar becomes a problem, Chanu said.
Chanu wobbled under the bar but somehow managed to keep her arms still. She would eventually steady herself and press the weight long enough for the lift to register.
“There was pain, but I managed to block it. All I was thinking was that I don’t have to drop the bar. I knew if I pull off that lift, I can easily come in the medal bracket in the clean and jerk . I think the Gods were kind,” Chanu, the world record holder in clean and jerk, said.
The Bogota Worlds was the first of six qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Having kicked off her qualification cycle in style, the ace weightlifter heads into a rehabilitation and strengthening program designed by Dr. Aaron Horschig.
Her next major stop will be the Asian Championships in Jinju, South Korea, in May followed by the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
“It’ll be an important year. I am looking forward to remaining injury free. I also aim to get close to the 90kg mark in snatch and better my clean and jerk world record (119 kg),” she stated. And in fact, breaching the Chinese wall.