A Glory Named Mirabai Chanu!

By Sakshi Ojha|Updated : July 26th, 2021


Recently, there’s only one name in the air and that is Mirabai Chanu and rightfully so. On Saturday, July 24th, Chanu made her country proud by winning a Silver Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Women’s 49 kg, securing India’s first medal of the games.

That endearing smile on Chanu’s face after winning the medal will be engraved in every proud Indians’ mind. Mirabai Chanu became the first Indian weightlifter to win a silver medal and the first Indian to win an Olympic medal on the first day of the Summer Olympics. People expect her to perform well and win medals for India, but she obviously cherishes the moment of redemption after heartbreak at the Rio Olympics five years ago.
Mirabai did not lose hope. Neither is her family. After all, Mirabai is destined to become a champion. If others can, why can't I? she thought. 

Let us know a little more about our champion's early life and career. 

Who is Mirabai Chanu? 

  • Mirabai Chanu is an Indian weightlifter. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was born on August 8, 1994, in a Meitei Hindu family in Nongpok Kakching, Imphal, Manipur. When she was 12 years old, she was able to easily move a large bundle of firewood home, when her brother had difficulty doing it, and it was then her family recognized her power. Her brother mentioned in many interviews that Mirabai used to go to the forest to collect some firewood for the household and would collect the biggest bunch.
  • From collecting firewood to collecting medals, making her family and the country proud, Chanu has come a long way. Chanu does not come from a very wealthy family, so she had to try harder to turn her dreams into reality. “There was a lot of financial crisis and my parents could hardly support her. Whatever she has done, it’s on her own,” said Sanatomba.

Her Inspiring Career Graph: 

  • She was only 12 years old when she arrived at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Center in Imphal, Khuman Lampak Stadium. At the time she was looking for archery training, but fate had other plans for her, so she didn't get any that day.
  • Therefore, Chanu decided to try weightlifting and he also saw Kunjarani Devi, another Manipur weightlifter, who won seven silver medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games World Championship and was inspired by her. Mirabai knew where her future was.
  • Her efforts to win the silver medal in the women's 49 kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Olympics are the joyous culmination of a journey full of pain, body and emotion.
  • The 26-year-old overcame the trauma of registering a no-lift in the Olympic Games in 2016 and the disappointment of missing the Asian Games due to injury. She won the Olympic silver medal for herself with a total weight of 203 kg (including 87 kg snatch and 115 kg clean and jerk), which is a just reward for her sacrifice in the chase.
  • Her success on Saturday, July 24 is a good example of the teamwork between the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF), the Sports Authority of India and the Olympic Gold Medal Pursuit. This synergy creates a positive environment around you, allowing you to focus on what you need to do in order to reach the podium in Tokyo.
  • The uncertainty brought about by the COVID19 pandemic has not stopped Mirabai Chanu either. It was not that she had no doubts in her mind, but that she handled them calmly. She did her best not to lose her muscle tonality during the lockdown in 2020 but when she resumed training, she would feel some pain in the shoulder. She did not stop herself even after so many obstacles. 
  • Most importantly, Mirabai's medal was earned because of her dedication to the sport. After her debut at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, after posting a disappointing no improvement in Clean & Jerk, she hardly felt grumpy at home but went straight to the Netaji Subhas National Sports Academy in Patiala for a total of five weeks.
  • In fact, when asked if she spoke more Hindi than Manipuri, she laughed in affirmation. "Sometimes when I talk to my mother, I remind myself that I have to speak my mother tongue, but yes, because I spend most of my time in Patiala, I speak more Hindi now than before," she said. And she drew attention to NIS Patiala, which has been her home for many years.

When Mirabai Chanu decided to be a weightlifter, there were so many obstacles aligned in her way to becoming what she has become today. From choosing this sport to finding herself in struggles to get trained for the same she finally got her chance in Rio Olympics. Her debut was not at all impressive, after all that struggle and hard work, our champion was defeated there. But what did she do after that? She got up, evaluated herself, her performance, her flaws and started training again with all her strength, both mental and physical. 

She worked on herself, finally got another chance and made it worth it, all the struggles and hard work finally paid off. She is our shining star now. All because she did not give up. 

Remember, "A hero is not braver than a normal man, he is just 5 minutes longer." Whatever your goal might be, just hold on and keep working on it.

So, get up and ask yourself, if she can, why not me? 

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Sakshi OjhaSakshi OjhaMember since Mar 2021
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