Saikhom Mirabai Chanu- the Indian Weightlifter with Silver Wings

Mirabai Chanu has returned home to hero’s welcome. Chanu, an Indian weightlifter was seen competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, lifting hopes of millions on her shoulders. This miracle girl wrote herself to history by winning us a silver medal in Weightlifting, making India prouder than ever. Millions back in India and around the world cheered her for a splendid go at the esteemed event.

The internet is filled with joy and all praises for Mirabai. Every household is now aware of how much our silver girl loves pizza as she was seen enjoying slices with Shri. Kiren Rijiju, former Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. It has been a few days to her win and we are witnessing adorable videos of children mimicking her historic lift. But who is Mirabai Chanu? What is her story?

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is a Manipuri girl born in a humble family living in Nongpok Kakching about 30 kilometers away from Imphal city. Chanu is the youngest born child to her parents and has six siblings. As a child, she would often go to the nearby hill to collect firewood with her brother who is four years elder to her. Mirabai was 12 when her brother was shocked to see her lift a bundle of firewoods for 2 kilometers which he couldn’t lift himself. Little did her family know that she was a champion in making.

Chanu was inspired to go for weightlifting as she was inspired by Kunjarani Devi- one of the pioneers of Indian Weightlifting. Though, her family couldn’t afford all the amenities, they were supportive of her dreams as Chanu was focused and a passionate child. She had to travel for 22 kilometers to her training center and had to manage studies at the same time. Later, Chanu shifted to Delhi for training and the rest is history.

It was in 2014 that Mirabai won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. She was later qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics which didn’t fare to be lucky for her. As expected, the 26-year-old was then subjected to harsh criticism. The disappointment showcased by her coaches became her best teacher.

Mirabai did not even attend her sister’s wedding to keep the nation’s flag high at the World Championships. It is well said that hard work pays off as we saw Mirabai in 2017 lifting gold at the World Championships. She also won a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Mirabai once stated, ‘Even if I miss training for just one or two days, I lose muscles’. Weak Shoulder, aching back, problems prior to the commencement of Olympics was faced by Chanu. She laughingly asked herself, “Am I so weak?”. This miracle girl competed with herself and won! Mirabai opened India’s account with a silver at the Tokyo Olympics and this is what we call as a comeback.

Recently, Manipur’s Chief Minister Shri N Biren Singh announced that the weightlifter will be appointed as the Additional Superintendent of Police (Sports) in Manipur’s Police Department. Mirabai Chanu. It is wonderful to witness our athletes get due recognition for the amount of hard work they do.

Mirabai has inspired generations to come and have lightened the torch of hopes amongst athletes who dream to represent India at the Olympics. This isn’t just a storyline of Mirabai’s journey so far but a testimony to the fact that nothing is impossible and challenges will always bow down to your perseverance.

Shine on, Mirabai!

Written by Ms. Tista Nautiyal

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