Mirabai Chanu, who gave India a start in the medals tally at the Tokyo Olympics with a silver in the women’s 49kg weightlifting event, has said that her dream of winning a medal at the Olympics has been fulfilled.
“There is so much happiness. The dream to take a medal at the Olympics has been fulfilled today,” said Mirabai in a virtual interaction organized by the Sports Authority of India on Saturday.
Mirabai acknowledged that the failure to not finish her lift at the 2016 Rio Olympics propelled her to put in more effort.
“I had worked really hard for Rio, but failed badly. It was not my day. It was then that I decided I will fulfil my dream of winning an Olympic medal for the country. What I couldn’t do in Rio, I covered it in Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, where I am right now, it’s because of Rio. It took lots of hard work in reaching here.”
Mirabai’s silver is India’s second medal in weightlifting at the Olympics after Karnam Malleswari’s bronze in the 69kg category at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“Khaana, sona aur training ke alawa koi doosra kaam nahi kiya” (Besides eating, sleeping and training, she didn’t do any other work) is how Mirabai’s coach Vijay Sharma summed up her schedule in the past five years.
“Post Rio failure, there was a lot of pressure on me. That setback showed us that we needed to work harder and be more determined. I worked with that lesson and Mira gave full support to me. But the journey post it (Rio 2016), training technique was changed and (we) got results after 2017. There were 2.5 years of Olympic qualification and 1.5 years of corona. But the result of the journey has been reaching here (on the podium),” said Sharma.
To validate Sharma’s point, Mirabai spoke about making a visit home for just five days in the last five years.
“Sacrifice has been a lot, (I) focused on training. In the last five years, went home for just five days. Didn’t eat certain foods; I knew I had to win a medal.”
Sharma spoke about the qualities which stood out when he met Mirabai for the first time. “As a team, I started working with her since 2014. Have worked with many students in a group but what was different with Mira was her discipline and determination. The desire to achieve something in her was more than the other students. Those qualities, which were unique, caught my eye. Whatever she has achieved, it has come through hard work, discipline and determination.”
Mirabai also expressed her gratitude to her coach, support staff, family, friends and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
“Lots of support and got help from TOPS. Lots of changes are happening. What we want, we get. Thanks to them for supporting and extending the same to other players. I tell the players to work hard and raise the name of the country. Have got the medal due to lots of support.”
Asked about what she planned to do on returning home, a smiling Mirabai said, “I will eat the food made by my mother and meet all. Mum is really happy and busy. She didn’t eat anything till the competition got over. Everyone is happy that the medal has come. The whole village is happy.”