From lifting firewood to lifting weights in Olympics, India’s Mirabai Chanu emerged as best weightlifting talent in decades. Following in the footsteps of Karnam Malleswari and Kunjarani Devi, the Indian weightlifter has gone on to record stellar performances in almost every major tournament for India.
Born on August 8, 1994, Chanu was brought up in Nongpok Kakching which is about 30 km away from Imphal city, Manipur. Her international breakthrough came at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Game where Indian weightlifters dominated the show in the 48 kg category.
The then 19-year-old Mirabai Chanu lifted a total of 170 kg to finish with a silver medal. Back then, Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu won the gold with a total of 173 kg.
In Rio 2016, Chanu failed in all her three attempts in clean and jerk. She bounced back to clinch the gold medal at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim. This was India’s first World Championship gold medal since Karnam Malleswari’s back-to-back wins in 1994 and 1995.
The Indian weightlifter smashed Commonwealth Games records by lifting a total of 196 kg to win the gold medal at Gold Coast 2018.
After a year of uncertainty, Chanu kickstarted Olympic season in 2021 with a bronze medal finish at the Asian Championships in Uzbekistan. Chanu set a new world record of 119 kg in clean and jerk.
The highlight of Mirabai Chanu’s career came at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where she won the silver medal in the women’s 49 kg category becoming the second Indian weightlifter, after Karnam Malleswari to win an Olympic medal.
Following her win, Chanu was inducted into the Manipur Police taking charge as takes charge as additional superintendent of police (sports). Up against the best lifters in the world in her category Chanu finished behind China’s Hou Zhihui lifting a total of 202 kg and winning silver for the country.
Chanu will be heading to Birmingham as the defending champion. India will be sending a 15-strong contingent, headlined by Chanu. The contingent is expected to return with a bagful of medals.