The 26-year-old became only the second Indian woman to grab an Olympic medal in the sport.
Well Begun is Half Done – Aristotle. One of the world’s most famous proverbs rang loud on Saturday amidst the Indian contingent and across the nation, as weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won the silver at the Tokyo Olympics. The diminutive lifter, standing at just 4’11, lifted 202kgs to register India’s first medal at the ongoing Olympics.
“I’m very happy that I’ve won the medal. The entire country was watching me. They had their expectations and I was a little nervous. However, I was determined to give my best…I worked really hard for this,” the 26-year-old from Manipur said with a beaming smile. She’s the first Indian weightlifter to win silver at the Olympics after Karnam Malleswari won the bronze in 2000.
India’s record at the Olympics has been no short of underwhelming. But Mirabai’s heroics could well be the onset for a different story this summer. India has sent a strong 121-member contingent to Japan, its largest-ever. Several participants over 18 sports are champions in their own right. They have an array of global podiums under their belt.
The silver medal of Mirabai Chanu on the second day of the Tokyo Olympics isn’t just historic, but will also have a knock-on effect on other medal prospects from India. It calms nerves and allows athletes to focus on their game better, taking away the pressure of delivering the ‘first’ (and most important) medal for the crest on their jerseys. Wrestler Bajrang Punia minces no words, advocating the same.
Mixed day for Indian at the Tokyo Olympics
While the day may not have been brilliant with Deepika Kumari’s underwhelming performances in singles and mixed doubles of recurve archery and Saurabh Chaudhary’s inconsistent display after reaching the finals of the men’s 10m air pistol, the medal will still act as a major push as Mirabai’s victory, energy and killer instinct are likely to boost the morale of teams and individuals alike.
In other positives, India defeated New Zealand 3-2 in a group game in hockey, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee won their respective first round singles in table tennis, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy won their first game in men’s doubles in badminton and Sumit Nagal moved to the second round, defeating Denis Istomin. Nagal will face World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the next round.
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A former international weightlifter and coach, Anita Chanu spotted Mirabai at an early age. As a 12-year-old, Mirabai Chanu was lifting heavy logs in her hometown of Nongpok Kakching. The right training and a killer instinct to deliver beyond the odds has earned her a noteworthy silver medal – several Indian athletes on the roster have similar stories and this will motivate them to perform to the best of their abilities.
These stories help the psyche of sportspersons significantly, more so when they’re on the same team, living and spending time together. A champion’s attitude rubs on their fellow teammates. While weightlifting is an individual sport, this contingent takes strength from one another’s achievements and thus, the medal is set to send positivity to every Indian athlete eager to perform.
Mirabai Chanu’s silver, hopefully, is just one of the many India wins at the Tokyo Olympics. Mirabai Chanu will not just inspire the Indian contingent participating at the ongoing Olympics, but will also inspire a generation of athletes to put in those yards to aspire for the podium in years to come.