The last time India won an Asiad medal was way back in 1998 in Bangkok, when Karnam Malleswari had secured a silver. At the last edition of the Games, a four-member Indian weightlifting contingent had returned empty-handed. Tokyo Olympics silver medallist and reigning CWG champion, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, wants to end the nation’s long wait for a weightlifting medal.
In fact, the diminutive Manipuri seeks to end India’s 72-year-long wait for an Asiad weightlifting gold when she makes her competes at the Hangzhou Games in the women’s 49kg division.
Mirabai was forced to miss the Jakarta Games in 2018 due to a back injury. This time, she wants to add the only medal missing from her glittering trophy cabinet with a top of the podium finish in Hangzhou. The weightlifting events will be held from September 30 to October 7.
“Whenever I sit alone, when I see my results, what I have achieved and what is left, then I talk to myself. I don’t have an Asian Games medal,” Mirabai said on the first episode of timesofindia.com’s new series ‘TOI Locker Room’. “At times, I am angry with myself. My aim is 90kg (in snatch), but it hasn’t happened. So, I ask myself why isn’t it happening? Sir (coach Vijay Sharma) also says I have to touch it (90 kg mark in snatch) in this (Asiad) competition,” she said.
TOI Locker Room | Mirabai Chanu talks about life, weightlifting & much more
To prepare well for the Asiad, Mirabai even skipped the World Weightlifting Championships 2023 by participating in the weigh-in. However, the road to medal glory won’t be easy for the former world champion.
She will face tough competition from Chinese lifters Hou Zhihui and Jiang Huihua in the field. Mirabai had held the world record for clean & jerk with a lift of 119kg, before Huihua bettered it last Tuesday with a heave of 120kg. The Chinese lifter also created a new world record for the total lift as she lifted 215kg, two kilograms better than the previous world mark of 213kg.
“I’ll give my best and not be afraid of any challenge. I am ready to face the competition from the Chinese lifters. I have worked hard for the Asiad. I also don’t have any injury concerns,” Mirabai said.
She recently underwent a five-month rehabilitation programme at the SQUAT University in St. Louis after having hip surgery in December 2022. Giving Mirabai company will be Bindyarani Devi, who took home the gold medal in the Commonwealth Championships in 2021. She will be competing in the women’s 55kg category.