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Mirabai Chanu to compete in new weight category in 2022 Commonwealth Games

Chanu should be a sure-shot gold medal winner in 49kg but now she will have to work hard to win a gold in 55kg.

By Newsd
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Tokyo Olympics: Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu opens India's tally at Games, wins silver in Women's 49kg category

Olympic silver medallist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will compete in a new weight class — 55kg — at the Commonwealth Games later this year to help maximise India’s chances of winning more gold medals in the multi-sport event in Birmingham.

Mirabai Chanu has achieved a lot of success competing in the 49kg weight division, including winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

She also holds the clean and jerk world record in this weight class. Before that, she used to compete in the 48kg class, winning the world championship gold in 2017. She also won 48kg silver and gold in the 2014 and 2018 CWG respectively. However, head coach Vijay Sharma and the Indian Weightlifting Federation feel the 27-year-old has a better chance of winning the gold medal in the 55kg category at the 2022 CWG than compatriot Sorokhaibam Bindyarani Devi, who won a silver at the Commonwealth Championships in December last.

“We (coach and federation) had a meeting and discussed that India should bring back medals on all the women’s weight categories in the 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Chanu told PTI. “There is a chance of getting 4-5 gold medals and that’s why we decided that I’ll move up to 55kg. So, we can win one there,” Chanu, who is already a two-time CWG medallist, added.

India still have a gold medal contender in the 49kg in Jhilli Dalabehera who won a silver in the Commonwealth Championships.

Chanu should be a sure-shot gold medal winner in 49kg but now she will have to work hard to win a gold in 55kg.

“I’ll have to work really hard, I’ll have to increase the weight (I lift) because it will be competitive (in 55kg). I won’t increase my weight, I’ll keep it as 50kg-51kg which is my natural weight,” said Chanu, who has a personal best of 207kg (88kg+119kg). With the Asian Games scheduled to begin just a month after the Birmingham CWG (July 28 to August 8), the diminutive Manipuri is not yet sure if she will switch back to the 49kg class or continue in 55kg in the continental event.

“I haven’t decided which weight category I’ll compete in the Asian Games. I will decide that after CWG. If all goes well I might continue in 55kg,” she added.

Chanu will be seen in action for the first time since her historic Tokyo performance at the Singapore Weightlifting International later this month, where she will look to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in her new category. The lifter form Manipur is tweaking her snatch technique and she is hopeful that will also help her in sorting out her “unbalance issue” and stave off injuries.

“I am focussing on snatch a bit more because it is my weakness. Snatch is all about technique so I’m working on that, I’m trying to change it a little. “This new technique will not be easy. But maybe by improving my technique a little, my unbalance issue may get sorted and it may also lower the risk of injury.” Chanu’s struggles in the snatch section due to an imbalance that affects her right shoulder and back is not new. She benefitted immensely by consulting Dr. Aaron Horschig, a former weightlifter-turned-physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach in the United States ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Chanu is keen to visit Horschig again next month for rehabilitation and endurance training.

“We are in talks to go in March, which is our off season. I go there keeping in mind the rehab and technique. But it has not been confirmed yet.” As part of its famous “Impossible is Nothing” campaign, Adidas is showcasing and celebrating the stories of inspirational female sportspersons who have achieved extraordinary feats to encourage women in sports. The campaign is close to Chanu’s heart.

“There has been a change in mindset, people encourage women to take up sports now and Adidas has supported this a lot. Earlier people didn’t get to know how much hard work has been put in by the players. This campaign shows that. It motivates women, which is a very big thing.”

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