Saturday, 16 October, 2021

India’s Olympic hero Mirabai says Tokyo silver built on Rio failure

India’s Olympic hero Mirabai says Tokyo silver built on Rio failure
(From left to right) Silver medallist India’s Chanu Saikhom Mirabai, gold medallist China’s Hou Zhihui and bronze medallist Indonesia’s Windy Cantika Aisah stand on the podium for the victory ceremony in Tokyo on Saturday. — AFP photo

India's Olympic weightlifting hero Chanu Saikhom Mirabai said her silver medal at Tokyo 2020 had been five years in the making since she missed out on an Olympic medal in Rio.

Mirabai, 26, finished second behind gold medallist Hou Zhihui of China in the 49kg women's wrestling on day one of the Olympic weightlifting competition.

"I had worked hard for Rio but it was just not to be, but from that day onwards I thought of winning in Tokyo and fulfil my dream of an Olympic medal," Mirabai told reporters.

"I am here because of what I had learned in Rio."

Mirabai, the 2017 world champion at 48kg, had failed to finish in the 2016 Olympics after recording no clean lifts in three clean and jerk attempts.

But she came back strong to aggregate 202kg in Tokyo and become a national hero at becoming India's first weightlifting silver medallist, after Karanam Malleswari's bronze in the women's 69kg at Sydney 2000.

"I would like to dedicate this medal to my country and would like to thank the billion prayers of all Indians which were with me during this journey," Mirabai wrote on Twitter.

Mirabai won silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 in the 48kg class and secured Commonwealth gold on the Gold Coast in 2018.

India, the second-most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion people, won just two medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.