By Chetan Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) “You know my name, not my story. You know what I have done, not what I have been through”. This quote by writer Jonathan Anthony Burkett fits well the life of Tokyo Olympics silver medallist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu – the new poster girl of Indian sports.
Mira nowadays is a very busy person. Wherever she goes, people gather around to take a selfie with her.
The 27-year-old weightlifter from Manipur’s East Imphal district clinched a silver medal in the recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics.
Mira on Friday met young weightlifters and spent time hearing about their aspirations, the challenges they face, and what inspired them to take up weightlifting as a sport, during her visit to an adidas store in the Capital.
Tokyo was Mira’s second Olympics. She had qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics in the women’s 48 kg category.
However, she failed to finish the event, owing to no successful lifts in any of her three attempts in the clean & jerk section.
“It was pretty tough to come out of the Rio debacle. I was so disheartened after failing to lift. I didn’t know what to do, and then I called up my mother and asked her what I should do. She supported me throughout this journey. I promised myself that I would work harder in the coming 4-5 years to win a medal in the Tokyo Olympics,” Mira told IANS.
“After breaking the world record at the Asian Championship (in April 2021), expectations had increased. I knew I could do it this time and make the nation happy.”
With Indian girls proving their mettle in the international sporting arena, Mira feels that more girls will come forward and take up sports. “My journey from a remote village to representing our country at an international event, clearly showcases that sport doesn’t care about gender or stereotypes. In our society, weightlifting has always been perceived as a male-dominated sport, it took a lot of courage and hard work to break such stereotypes. I want women to dream and believe in themselves to be able to see possibilities.”
Before the Tokyo Olympics, there was a feeling that Mira’s ‘clean and jerk’ was always strong but ‘snatch’ was a cause for concern. To this, the weightlifter said, “My shoulder got injured and I had some trouble in snatch. But I worked on my technique and it proved fruitful. My confidence after Asian Championship success was boosted a lot which later helped me in Tokyo.”
Since winning the Olympic medal last month, Mira is getting congratulatory messages from all over India. She recently met cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai. “It was great meeting Sachin sir. He was so happy about my performance. He motivated me for future competitions, I will continue to make my country proud,” Mira added.