Forget the Struggle, I'm the Best in the World, Stresses CWG Gold Medallist Mirabai Chanu
It’s a tough ask to be a top-level sports star in India, where fans are ever ready to throng their favourite players at the drop of a hat. Nowadays this status is enjoyed by our star shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, who are always in the limelight. But post her exceptional success at the Commonwealth Games—Gold in 48kg weightlifting event, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is certainly knocking on that door of stardom.
Mirabai Chanu. (Image: AP)
New Delhi: It’s a tough ask to be a top-level sports star in India, where fans are ever ready to throng their favourite players at the drop of a hat. Nowadays this status is enjoyed by our star shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, who are always in the limelight. But post her exceptional success at the Commonwealth Games Gold in 48kg weightlifting event, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is certainly knocking on that door of stardom.
Still to get those starry airs, Mirabai is currently cynosure of all eyes and is receiving accolades galore for her stupendous achievement at the CWG. The lifter from Manipur lifted a personal best (196kg), and in this bid created a Games record too. But by her own estimates she could have lifted a little more than that. In an exclusive chat with News18 Sports Mirabai talked about her journey post Rio Olympics in 2016, and what holds in future for her.
“This performance was really important for me as this would set the tone for rest of the year. If you see, my gold medal was decided right in the first lift only as there was not much competition. When I went into the games, I had set a target of coming back with a Games record and a personal best. I’m glad that I achieved that, more the gold.
“I could have put up an even better show, and improved the weight by at least 2 kg, but I just settled with a total lift of 196 Kg. Even my coaches told me that I could have lifted more, but then I got the confidence I wanted from these games,” Mirabai said.
These days internet is filled with stories about her, which talk about the struggle in her initial days, weak financial background and how she gave up archery to become a weightlifter, but the 23-year-old doesn’t really like to talk about that. For her every sports person goes through that phase. What many people might not know is that how the gritty weightlifter fought the odds and won the gold, despite not having a physio at her disposal during the competition.
“Weightlifting, as you know is a dangerous sport and there is a high risk of getting injured. So physios are of utmost importance for us. It was a setback for us that our physios weren’t allowed to accompany us to the competition because of some accreditation issue. Though I won a gold, even I faced some problem during the competition when I was warming-up. It’s then when players turn their own physios and take care of little things themselves. I was a little disappointed with that. What’s even shocking is that we didn’t know till the competition that we won’t have access to physios,” she added.
That’s not where her struggle ends. One must be surprised to know that Chanu has been dope tested at least 25 times in the last one month. That is a staggering number considering, if she was an offender, she would not have come out clean in even single one of them. This is after the weightlifter will be all the more cautious, as she has to maintain her top stature in the world.
“I don’t know why but I am put through dope tests every now and then. It is supposed to be a random thing in the off season and during the competition too, but somehow I am tested far more often that I actually should. I am tested at every competition I go to. People don’t believe me when I tell them that I was tested close to 25 times in the last month. Then I was also tested at the Games.
“What is surprising is that even after coming out clean in these tests, I have to go through it again and again. I don’t have a problem with it, but there should be a reason behind it.”
But hurdles are hardly a hindrance for champions. Very quickly, after touching about the excessive dope tests, she shifts her focus to talking about her goal—winning the Asian Games gold.
“I have already started preparing for the Asian Games, because the competition there is really tough. I can easily say that it’s far more difficult to win an Asian Games medal than a World Championships medal. I have to lift even better than my personal best to win a gold there. I think if I continue to practice hard, I can bag gold there too.
“I would I like believe that I’m the best weightlifter in the world, in my category. I always go by the belief, if others can do it, I can do it too,” she concluded.
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