Olympics effect: Manipur's Mirabai seeing more interest in weightlifting

New Delhi: Star weightlifter Mirabai Chanu has observed a heightened interest in the power sport since her silver medal-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics and expects more women to compete at the highest level in the near future.

Speaking at an event organised by Adidas here on Friday, Mirabai said the amount of love she has received from fellow Indians since her feat last month has left her overwhelmed.

“It wasn’t like that before Tokyo but I am seeing a marked interest in weightlifting for the first time. It makes me confident that more women will represent India in the next Olympics.

“The sport is a lot about strength and power but there is not a lot of difference between weightlifting and other sports. I see lot of youngsters taking up to the sport especially women,” she said.

The performances from Indian women stood out in Tokyo whether it was Chanu’s outing on the opening day or P V Sindhu‘s bronze or the hockey team reaching the semifinals for the first time. India golfer Aditi Ashok also became a household name by finishing a highly creditable fourth after being in medal contention till the every end.

“It is all about hard work and women are working as hard as anyone and the results are for all of us to see,” said Mirabai when asked about women excelling in sports.

“I have received a lot of love from fellow Indians ever since I have come back. This is a big moment for me. To win a medal for India is a dream come true.”

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Mirabai Chanu also looked back at her disappointing run in Rio 2016 and how she bounced back from that.

“I made my debut in Rio. I could not win there though I trained hard like I did for Tokyo. I got blank and nervous in Rio. I came back and worked on my flaws and technique,” said Mirabai Chanu.

“My coach gave me a lot of motivation and support. I told myself I could do this with proper planning, training and technique and with implementing those changes I became a better weightlifter,” said the 27-year-old who won the World Championships the following year in 2017.

Mirabai Chanu, the second weightlifter to win an Olympic medal after Karnam Malleswari, now has her sights set on Asian Games and Commonwealth Games next year.

The qualifying event for CWG is the Commonwealth Championships scheduled in Singapore later this year.

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