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Despite wrist injury, Mirabai wins gold with ease in 49kg category

Mirabai Chanu had hurt her left wrist during training a month ago.

It was a foregone conclusion that Chanu would win the gold medal in the 49kg category at the National Games. It was barely a surprise that she’d do it with utmost ease (Twitter/ Mirabai Chanu)

Mirabai Chanu, as is her wont, waited for all her rivals to finish before stepping on the stage. Then, typical of her style once again – especially in events where there are no Chinese lifters – the Olympic medallist required just a couple of lifts to win the gold.

It was a foregone conclusion that Chanu would win the gold medal in the 49kg category at the National Games. It was barely a surprise that she’d do it with utmost ease – the weightlifter didn’t even need to use all three attempts snatch and clean and jerk segments to settle the affair; Chanu needed just two in each of them.

That, however, was not just because of the daylight between her and the rest of the Indian lifters. More than going for a record or a medal, Chanu was merely protecting herself.

A month ago, the lifter hurt her left wrist during training. The injury aggravated last week and also she played down any concerns of it getting worse, Chanu said she did not want to take any chance by lifting heavy weights or taking any unnecessary risks at the National Games.


“For one month, there’s a slight problem I am having in my wrist,” she said, pointing at her left wrist. “The MRI (scans) showed there was an injury because of load. So, to ensure the pain doesn’t get more I did two lifts because the main thing is World Championship.”

Indeed, for Chanu, the 2017 world champion, the World Championship that will be held in the Colombian capital city Bogota from December 5 to 16 is the main thing this year. Not only because of the bragging rights but also because it is the first step toward qualifying for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The International Weightlifting Federation’s qualifying criteria are such that all lifters have to compete in the 2023 World Championship and 2024 World Cup. The world body has lifted five other tournaments between December 2022 and April 2024 of which athletes must compete in any three – this year’s Worlds features in that list.


A rankings list will be prepared based on performances in these tournaments and based on that, the Olympic quota winners will be decided after the qualifying period ends on April 28, 2024.

The rules state that athletes do not necessarily have to lift at an event to fulfill the participation requirement – they can merely attend, take part in weigh-in and participate in the official introduction. Yet, for someone like Chanu, who is very injury-prone, this means that staying fit during the qualification window to ensure participation will be critical.

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This was visible in her approach at the National Games on Friday, where she was uncharacteristically conservative. The Manipuri athlete lifted a total of 191 kg – 84 in snatch and 107 in clean and jerk – to win the gold ahead of state-mate Sanjita Chanu who tallied 187kg (snatch 82kg, C&J 105kg) and Odisha’s Sneha Soren, who lifted 169kg (snatch 73kg, C&J 96kg).

Chanu’s tally, however, was far below her personal bests of 88kg in snatch and 119kg in clean and jerk, which is also a world record. “I did not do heavy lifts because of this (the injury). I knew I had a medal after one lift. For me, World Championship is the key,” she reiterated.

From shoulder to back and now wrist, Chanu’s list of injuries has been long. As was the case with her back injury a couple of years ago, she can’t pinpoint the reason for hurting her wrist but she suspects it was because of the combination of lack of rest and competition load.

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“It happened suddenly like it was when there was the issue with the back. I don’t know what the reason is but it could be the load… too many competitions back to back, so I haven’t got rest. Maybe that’s why,” she says. “I have been working closely with my coach and physio to cure this. Of the seven hours I train every day, one hour is devoted to different exercises, mainly strength training, to make sure the injuries are under control. I have been focusing on my health.”

The focus will be a lot more in the coming few weeks as she prepares for the World Championships. Chanu is likely to travel to the USA in mid-October, where she will continue training with coach Vijay Sharma.

The wrist, she is confident, will be better by the time the Worlds take place. And she already has her target set: “90+ kg in snatch and cross my world record (119kg) total in clean and jerk.”

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If she does that, Chanu will close the gap even more with her Chinese rivals. Before that, however, she’ll have to ensure her injury heals completely.

First published on: 30-09-2022 at 06:07:22 pm
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