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Shouldering 130 crore Indians’ hopes, Chanu snatches first medal, a silver, for country

Mirabai Chanu. Photo: @WeAreTeamIndia/Twitter

Tokyo, July 24 (MNN) Shouldering the hopes of 130 crore compatriots, star weightlifter Mirabai Chanu created history as she became the first Indian weightlifter to win a silver at the Olympics in the women’s 49 kg category on Saturday.

She lifted 202kg in weightlifting event on Day 1 of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, giving India its first medal at the Games — also the first weightlifting medal after a gap of 21 years.

The 26-year-old is the second weightlifter to get a podium finish at Olympics after Karnam Malleswari, who won a bronze at the Sydney Olympics 2000 in the women’s 69kg category.

China’s Hou Zhihu lifted 94kg and went ahead with no-holds-barred for a clean-and-jerk round by lifting 116kg and finished with a total 210kg — a new Olympic record.

Chanu lifted 84kg and 87kg successfully but failed to lift 89kg as she was placed in the second spot after snatch and finished the jerk with 115kg after failing to lift her final attempt of 117kg in jerk. Cantika Aisah of Indonesia got the bronze with 194kg.

Chanu equalled her personal best in a snatch of 87kg. She lifted 87kg in snatch when she won the gold medal at the World Championships in 2017.

Five years ago, she had headed to her maiden Olympic Games at Rio as one of the big Indian hopes, but she suffered a poor outing. Mirabai holds the world record of 119kg in clean and jerk at the 2021 Asian Weightlifting Championships.

The lone Indian weightlifter in Tokyo roared back to form with world championships gold in 2017 and Commonwealth Games gold in 2018. She heads into Tokyo Games after having set the world record in clean and jerk in the women’s 49kg category.

As the news about the Manipur weightlifter’s medal broke, the social media was flooded with congratulatory messages.

“Heartiest congratulations to Mirabai Chanu for starting the medal tally for India in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 by winning silver medal in weightlifting,” President Ram Nath Kovind wrote on Twitter.

“Could not have asked for a happier start to Tokyo Olympics 2020! India is elated by Mirabai Chanu’s stupendous performance. Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Congratulations to #MirabaiChanu for our country’s first medal on the very first day. India is proud of her daughter.”

“You didn’t just lift weights and pick a medal there, champion. You lifted a nation that needed to find joy and you did it with the widest smile. Take a bow,” tweeted football ace Sunil Chhetri.

“Absolutely amazing display of weightlifting. The way you have transformed yourself after your injury and clinched a historic silver for #TeamIndia is absolutely stupendous. You have made Flag of India very proud,” tweeted cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.

“A fabulous beginning for #TeamIndia. Our heart fills with pride and joy. Weightlifter @mirabai_chanu wins India’s first medal @Tokyo2020. Congratulations,” Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted.

“So proud of @mirabai_chanu for clinching the silver medal. Wishing you all the very best for your future endeavours,” tweeted Indian Home Minister Amit Shah.

“What a day! What a win for India. You have made the country proud today,” tweeted Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

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