Mirabai wins silver, says dream of winning medal comes true - GulfToday

Mirabai wins silver, says dream of winning medal comes true


From left: Silver medallist Chanu Saikhom Mirabai, gold medallist Hou Zhihui and bronze medallist Windy Cantika Aisah stand on the podium during the presentation ceremony. Agence France-Presse

Mirabai Chanu, who gave India a start in the medals tally at the Tokyo Olympics with a silver in the womens 49kg weightlifting event, has said that her dream of winning a medal at the Olympics has been fulfilled.

“There is so much happiness. The dream to take a medal at the Olympics has been fulfilled today.” said Mirabai in a virtual interaction organised by the Sports Authority of India on Saturday.

China’s Hou Zhihui took the gold. The 24-year-old world championship silver medallist Hou dominated the 49kg competition, opening up an early 7kg advantage over Mirabai that she never relinquished at the Tokyo International Forum.

Mirabai acknowledged that the failure to not finish her lift at the 2016 Rio Olympics propelled her to put in more effort.

“I had worked really hard for Rio, but failed badly. It was not my day. It was then that I decided I will fulfil my dream of winning an Olympic medal for the country. What I couldn’t do in Rio, I covered it in Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, where I am right now, it’s because of Rio. It took lots of hard work in reaching here.”

Back in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the celebrations as the country celebrated only its fifth individual Olympic silver medal in the history of the Games.

“Could not have asked for a happier start to @Tokyo2020!,” Modi tweeted.

“India is elated by @Mirabai_chanu’s stupendous performance. Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting. Her success motivates every Indian.”

Had she won gold, Mirabai would have been just the second athlete -- and first female -- from the country of 1.3 billion people to win an individual Olympic title, after Abhinav Bindra in the 10m air rifle at Beijing 2008.

Mirabai’s silver is India’s second medal in weightlifting at the Olympics after Karnam Malleswari’s bronze in the 69kg category at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“Khaana, sona aur training ke alawa koi doosra kaam nahi kiya” (Besides eating, sleeping and training, she didn’t do any other work) is how Mirabai’s coach Vijay Sharma summed up her schedule in the past five years.

“Post Rio failure, there was a lot of pressure on me. That setback showed us that we needed to work harder and be more determined. I worked with that lesson and Mira gave full support to me. But the journey post it (Rio 2016), training technique was changed and (we) got results after 2017. There were 2.5 years of Olympic qualification and 1.5 years of corona. But the result of the journey has been reaching here (on the podium),” said Sharma.

To validate Sharma’s point, Mirabai spoke about making a visit home for just five days in the last five years.

“Sacrifice has been a lot, (I) focused on training. In the last five years, went home for just five days. Didn’t eat certain foods; I knew I had to win a medal.”

Sharma spoke about the qualities which stood out when he met Mirabai for the first time. “As a team, I started working with her since 2014. Have worked with many students in a group but what was different with Mira was her discipline and determination. The desire to achieve something in her was more than the other students. Those qualities, which were unique, caught my eye. Whatever she has achieved, it has come through hard work, discipline and determination.”

Mirabai also expressed her gratitude to her coach, support staff, family, friends and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

“Lots of support and got help from TOPS. Lots of changes are happening. What we want, we get. Thanks to them for supporting and extending the same to other players. I tell the players to work hard and raise the name of the country. Have got the medal due to lots of support.”


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