Mirabai hopes to overcome Asiad agony with Paris glory

“I am determined to win a second Olympic medal. It will help me overcome the agony of missing out on major medals due to injuries,” said Mirabai.

Mirabai hopes to overcome Asiad agony with Paris glory

India’s top weightlifter and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu has bounced back strongly from several injury setbacks, but the most recent one, a right thigh injury not only hit her physically but also came as a mental shocker as it closed the doors on her Asiad dreams in September 2023 when she had to be carried off the stage by her long time coach Vijay Sharma.

It was the second consecutive instance after the 2018 Jakarta edition when the Manipuri lifter’s dreams of pocketing an Asian Games medal were shattered by injuries. Not the one to give in to such obstacles, Mirabai came back strongly to win the silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and four years later, she trains her guns for a second Olympic medal in Paris.

“I am determined to win a second Olympic medal. It will help me overcome the agony of missing out on major medals due to injuries. Missing two consecutive Asian Games medals is a major setback but such things are beyond one’s control. So I’m focussing on controlling the controllable and the rest lies in the hands of God,” she said.


“In 2018, I missed out on a medal due to injury, and again in 2023 when I was fully confident of pocketing my first ever Asiad medal, the right thigh injury popped up, leaving me devastated. Physically I was down but it hurt me more mentally. My coach and family kept motivating me to bounce back, and I’m now mentally prepared to take on the challenge.”

“Now the focus is on clinching a medal at the Paris Olympics, it will be a massive confidence booster for me,” she felt.

If she is successful in her quest, Mirabai will become the third Indian after iconic wrestler Sushil Kumar (2008 Beijing bronze, 2012 London silver) and shutter PV Sindhu (2016 Rio silver, 2020 Tokyo bronze) to win medals at consecutive Olympics in an individual event.

However, it hasn’t been a cakewalk for the 29-year-old as the injury in Hangzhou kept her out of action for close to six months, and on her return in April, she expectedly wasn’t at her best but assured herself of a shot at a second Olympic medal by finishing third at the IWF World Cup held in Phuket.

As per International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) qualification rules, lifters have to compete in the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 World Cup along with three more major events to be eligible for the Paris Olympics.

Mirabai fulfilled the criteria by competing at the 2022 Worlds, 2023 Asian Championships, the 2024 World Cup and registered herself for the 2023 Worlds and Grand Prix II – where she completed all the necessary formalities but did not compete. That made her eligible to qualify for the Paris Games, and she is currently ranked 3rd in the Olympic Qualification Rankings (OQR) (list updated on April 11, 2024).

“The World Cup was in my mind while I was undergoing rehab. My coach wanted me to go light on my training during the initial days as there was a fear that the injury might recur. So the idea of competing at the World Cup was primarily to assess my fitness levels and any shortcomings which the coach could work on. That was the reason that I attempted all lifts despite already ensuring my Olympic qualification,” she explained.

At the IWF World Cup on April 1, Mirabai registered a best lift of 81kgs in snatch followed by a successful attempt at 113kgs in clean and jerk to finish third in Group B (and 11th overall) of the women’s 49kg division with a total of 184kgs.

Back in training mode, Mirabai has shifted her entire focus to the Paris Games, where she is determined for another podium finish. “I’m now looking to reach my peak, the Olympics is still a couple of months away, so by that time, I’m sure I will hit that mark.”

On being asked about her possible competitors in Paris, Mirabai expects the Chinese lifters to be tough but exuded confidence in herself.

“Every lifter will be expected to come prepared to an Olympics, and as I said, I also expect myself to hit my peak form by that time, so the level of competition will surely be high. The Chinese lifters are really tough, but I have confidence in my abilities,” she said.

Post Paris 2024, Mirabai hopes to stay injury-free and continue training till her body allows her as she doesn’t rule out the possibility of competing in another Olympics. For now, the Tokyo silver medal winner is focussed on bettering the colour in Paris!