Mirabai Chanu - The Real Struggler | Tokyo Olympics 2021

Hello, friends! There's amazing news for all of us. That, in the ongoing Tokyo Olympic games, India has won a medal on the very first day! Indian weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu won the Silver medal in weightlifting.

 And even if for a short while, India was among the top 3 in the Olympic Rank List. It was historic! In this article, let's get to know about her win. And her super-inspiring story. Mirabai was the only Indian weightlifter in this Olympics. She has won in the Women's 49kg category. 

She got the Silver medal. And the Gold medal in the same category went to China's weightlifter Hou Zhihui. And an Indonesian weightlifter was at the third position, winning the Bronze medal. Hou Zhihui and Mirabai. It was said that both of them had a good chance of winning. Because Hou Zhihui was at #1 Rank worldwide. And Mirabai was at #4 Rank. 

In April this year, in the Asian Championship both weightlifters had created world records. Hou won the Gold medal with a total score of 213 kg. Mirabai had also broken the existing world record in the clean and jerk segment with 119 kg. What does the Clean and Jerk segment mean? Let's understand a little about this sport. It's very interesting to know. The more you understand about this sport, the more will you be interested in it. The concept of weightlifting is simple at first glance. 

There's a steel barbell. With rubber weights on both sides. The person that can lift the most weight will be the winner of this game. But there can be two methods of lifting the weights. And these two methods are the two segments of the game.

 The first segment is the Snatch. The weights need to be lifted above the head from the ground in a single motion. Somewhat like this. When the snatch segment of all the athletes is over, then there is a short break. And then comes the other segment. That's called the Clean and Jerk segment. In it, the weights don't need to be lifted in a single motion. Instead, the weights are lifted to the chest level first and then in the next motion, the weights are lifted from the chest to above the head.

 Obviously, because it's being broken down into two motions it is possible to lift heavier weights in this segment for any athlete as compared to that in the snatch segment. In both segments, the lifter has to stand up straight with the weights. Otherwise, they lose their attempt. And how many attempts do they get? 

They get three attempts in both segments. The best attempt among the three, is counted towards the final score. And they get only 1 minute in each attempt. And then score in the best performance in snatch and the best performance in clean and jerk, both scores are added up. And the total score of the weightlifter is calculated. And the weightlifter that has the highest total score, is then declared the winner. 

For this game, the weightlifters need to decide the weight that they would attempt to lift. If we talk about Mirabai's performance in this game, then, she tried to lift 84 kg in the first attempt in the snatch segment. She was successful at it. 

In the second attempt, she tried to lift 87 kg. And she was successful at it too. And then she tried to lift 89 kg in the third attempt. But she failed at that. Since her best attempt was at 87 kg, it was considered. In the clean and jerk segment, she lifted 110 kg successfully in the first attempt. 

And then she lifted 115 kg. And in the third attempt, she tried to lift 117 kg. But she couldn't do it. Her best attempt was at 115 kg in this segment. And her final score was, 87 kg + 115 kg. Her total score was 202 kg. 

On the other hand, gold medal winner Hou Zhihui's score was 94 kg in the snatch segment. 116 kg in the clean and jerk segment. Which landed the total at 210 kg. All three scores were World Records. So it was a brilliant game. 

If we talk about the past, Mirabai is only the second Indian athlete to have won a medal at weightlifting. Before this, in the year 2000, when the Olympics were held in Sydney, Australia, women weightlifting was introduced then.

 Here, India's Karnam Malleswari won the Bronze medal in the 69 kg category. And she became the first woman the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in India's history. With this, she was also the first Indian to win at weightlifting. So Mirabai is only the second Indian to win a medal at weightlifting. 

She has become a new inspiration for people across the country. She dedicated her medal to the country after her win. And thanked all Indians. She gave the credit of the win to her family, especially her mother and coach Vijay Sharma

 A very interesting thing to note here is, she thanked the Indian Railways as well. Because she is an athlete of the Indian Railways. Initially, She had joined the Indian Railways as Chief Ticket Inspector.

 In 2018, she was promoted to the rank of officer. Her story is very inspiring, friends! Her village is 20 km from Manipur's capital, Imphal. Nongpok Kakching.

 On 8th August 1994, she was born here. In a low-income family. At home, food used to be cooked on a mud hearth. Since firewood is used to light it, she used to lift more than her elder brother since a very young age. 

When they used to get the firewood, she could lift more weight than her elder brother could. In terms of the firewood. She was quite interested in sports as a child. Whenever she saw her cousins playing football, she'd think that though it's fun to play football but the clothes get ruined. So she wanted to choose a sport where the clothes wouldn't get dirty. 

And the player could remain clean. Then she saw archery. She thought of choosing archery as a sport. Because it's a neat, clean and stylish sport. That's why, in 2008, when she was 13 or 14 years old, she went to Imphal with her cousin. She wanted to train at the centre of the Sports Authority of India there.

 But at that time, there was no training for archery scheduled there. Then she saw a few clips of Kunjarani Devi there. She is a famous weightlifter from Manipur as well. An Indian weightlifter. She has won many medals in international competitions. 

Watching her clips, she felt inspired. And she decided to train for weightlifting. There, international coach Anita Chanu introduced her to weightlifting. The training centre was around 22 km from her village. She had to reach there at 6 in the morning every day. 

Not by a car, instead, by a bus! She had to change busses twice. She went to train in the morning every day. And she'd practice. She practised every day to become better. As they say, By practising regularly, a fool becomes a sage; By repeatedly rubbing a rope, even the stone gets worn down. 

When water is drawn from a well, the rope repeatedly rubs on the stone and leaves its mark on the stone. Similarly, a fool, if he studies diligently, if he practises again and again and works hard, then he can become a sage as well. With hard work, Mirabai won the Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games within only 6 years. In 2014, the Commonwealth Games took place in Scotland.

 She won the Silver medal there. In the Rio Olympics in 2016, she broke a 12-year old record in the National Selections tryout. When she qualified for the Olympics after breaking the record, she was considered a top contender to win a medal.

 But a very unfortunate incident took place in the 2016 Olympics. She returned home with a DNF tag. That is the Did Not Finish tag. Because in the clean and jerk segment, she could not get a legitimate lift in any of the attempts. Meaning, that she hadn't lifted properly. 

So the judges disqualified her because of her wrong lifts. And there was only 1 correct lift in the snatch segment. She couldn't stop her tears. A sport is not only a test of your physical strength. But also tests your attitude and mental strength. How much can you focus?

How much can you keep yourself motivated? It was a very challenging time for her. To return after a disgraceful loss. And to start working hard again. For the next Olympics. She didn't lose hope. And in the 2017 World Championship in America, she won the Gold medal. 

Next year, in 2018, Commonwealth Games took place in Australia. There not only did she win the Gold medal in the 48 kg category, But broke all records also. In 2018, she was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Everything was going well. Then life took another turn.

She got a lower back injury. She had to stay away from the game for 1 year. She made a comeback in 2019. And I already told you about the 2021 Asian Championship. And then came the Olympics. Where she won a Silver medal. 

This is such an inspiring story that a Bollywood film can be made on it, literally. So many ups and downs. What do we learn from this? Any ups and downs that may come our way, we should hold onto courage. 

And keep moving forward. Such inspiring stories, will motivate you, hopefully. To keep moving forward in your life. And the dreams that you want to achieve, I hope you can achieve them. 

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