The “Padma Shri” awarded Indian female weightlifter “Saikhom Mirabai Chanu” is a Wonder-woman.  Not simply for the reason that she clinched a Gold Medal in Commonwealth games, 2018 held in Australia. But, she is a Wonder-woman also because she broke 3 records in this process.  With this win, she put an end to India’s long twenty-two year wait for Gold in world weightlifting championship.


Here are some other particulars about her that might be of interest to you:

  • Full name: Saikhom Mirabai Chanu
  • Date of birth: August 8, 1994
  • Place of birth: Nongpok Kakching Village, Imphal, Manipur
  • Belongs to: Manipur, India
  • Height: 150 cm (4.11”)
  • Weight: 106 lb (48 kgs)
  • Best international medal: Gold Medal in the 48 kg Category Commonwealth Games, 2018
  • First international medal: Silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, 2014
  • State award: Felicitation and INR 2 million cash prize by Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh
  • Taste of limelight: Rio Olympics 2016 trials in Patiala, where she broke the 48 kg nationwide record held by ‘Kunjarana Devi’ for past twelve years
  • Was considered a successor to First Indian woman weight-lifter to win a Gold medal at world weightlifting championship ‘Karnam Malleswari’

 

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu at Commonwealth Games, 2018

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu at Commonwealth Games, 2018

What does Saikhom Mirabai Chanu lift?

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu stands 4.11” tall. She has lifted more than four times her body weight in various competitions. She began her sports journey from a young age of 9 years. But do you know some surprising facts about Mirabai Chanu?

  • That she won her first sports medal at a tender age in the junior category at South Asian Junior Games.
  • That she had a hard-up childhood.
  • Mirabai Chanu used to lift up firewood before foraying into professional weight-lifting.
  • Youngest of the six siblings, Mirabai Chanu, however, managed to pick up more logs than her four years elder brother even way back then.

Was weight-lifting Saikhom Mirabai Chanu’s first love?

The world-famous Indian weight-lifter never thought of becoming a weight-lifter in the first place.  “I don’t think love is once in a lifetime. I think love is always a possibility”, goes a well known saying. Some of us would agree with this. Others might show their disapproval. And then, there will be those who believe that this possibility is limited only to the love between two persons. Wrong. Second love is a possibility.  And, this possibility goes beyond the love between individuals.  In the case of Mirabai Chanu, her first love was “archery”. Mirabai Chanu was certainly not a born prodigy. Yet, even as a child, she harbored dreams of becoming a sports sensation. But, unlike her siblings and cousins who loved to play football, Mirabai Chanu preferred clean and chic sports. Archery seemed to fit the bill. Mirabai Chanu shared in an interview that she wanted to become an archer because archers just needed to stand and shoot.  Driven by her ambitions, she visited Sports Authority of India center in Imphal in the year 2008. As luck would have it, there was no archery training that day. So, the teenager could not meet any archer to guide her. Instead, she got to see the clippings of Kunjarani Devi’s performance in the weight-lifting field. Also, she got to meet Anita Chanu, who initiated Mirabai Chanu into professional weight-lifting. This is how a budding Indian woman archer turned into a promising Indian woman weight-lifter. Yes, this is all surprising, but true.

Is Saikhom Mirabai Chanu’s mobile as smart as her game?

The suave weight-lifter maintains distance from smart-phones and uses simpler mobiles instead. Mirabai Chanu cultivated this habit during her initial training days at the Imphal training academy, where the use of smart-phones was prohibited. She continued this practice even at the national camp. This, in fact, motivated other emerging weight-lifters to follow her footsteps.

Did Saikhom Mirabai Chanu battle with depression?

mirabaiThis powerful Indian female weight-lifter suffered from depression after her disappointing Olympic debut in 2016. Recently some Bollywood celebrities have opened up about their battles with depression and anxiety. These include Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Varun Dhawan, Manisha Koirala, and Anushka Sharma, to name a few.  In the global context, scores of well-known sportspersons including cricketers, athletes, wrestlers, boxers, and others have been known to suffer from this ailment. Not many opened up about it. But, Mirabai Chanu decided to do the opposite.

Mirabai Chanu was among the two weightlifters who failed miserably at the Rio Olympics held in 2016. Mirabai Chanu started wearing Olympic rings shaped earrings after the Rio games. She wore these to remind herself about her upsetting Rio performance. However, later these ornaments acted as reminiscences to focus on performing better in the future.

Mirabai Chanu had shared in an interview that the social media trolls and wide-spread condemnation of her coach had hurt her badly. All this made her feel like a complete loser and depressed.  So much so, that she even pondered over giving up sports training and even this career.  It took her loads of time to get over this distress. But, besides countless personal adversities and professional setbacks, Mirabai bounced back. And did that, with a bang! She credited her parents, family members, and her coach for helping her in combating depression and coming out triumphant.

Does Saikhom Mirabai Chanu look up to someone?

Mirabai Chanu draws her inspiration from two Indian weight-lifter women, “Anita Chanu” and “Kunjarani Devi”.  Anita Chanu is a Manipuri weight-lifter under whose aegis Mirabai learned weight-lifting for 10 years. And, Kunjarani Devi is also a Manipuri weight-lifter, who is now even a theme of regional folklore. It was her 2014 Olympics show that ignited in Mirabai a passion to join sports and stand at the podium with a medal.  During an interview, Kunjarani Devi once described Mirabai Chanu as one of those weight-lifters who is born once in a generation.

What does the future hold for Saikhom Mirabai Chanu?

Mirabai Chanu is an extremely hard-working sportsperson. She puts in her best effort at practicing even during the offseason when nobody would watch her. This quality has always set her apart. With age on her side, she can go on winning accolades for India and making the nation proud for many years to come. She has now set her heart and mind at lifting up over 200 kgs weight and winning Gold for India at the Asian Games to be held in later 2018.

While the Indian women sportspersons and specifically women weightlifters are yet to prove their mettle at international events. It would not be wrong to say that the champions like Mirabai Chanu have the aptitude to bring about a sea-change in the Indian sports arena.

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