Mirabai Chanu starts India's golden run in Gold Coast
Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu secured India's first gold medal on the first day of the Commonwealth Games after lifting a combined 196 kg (86 kg in snatch and 110 in clean and jerk) in the 48kg category.
Mirabai, who successfully attempted an 80 kg lift in her first attempt in snatch, created a new Commonwealth Championships record by lifting 86 kg in her third attempt, along with exceeding her own personal best of 85 kg. In clean and jerk, while her first successful attempt of 103 kg broke the Commonwealth Games record, her third attempt of 110 kg helped her create an all-new personal best of 196, two kilos more than her previous best.
Marie Hanitra Roilya Ranaivosoa won silver by lifting 166 kg (76 kg in snatch and 96 kg in clean and jerk).
23-year-old Mirabai grabbed eyeballs when she won the Weightlifting World Championships last year, becoming the first Indian to win at the World's since Karnam Malleshwari's victory in 1995. She lifted 194 kg -- her previous best -- in the tournament. Explaining her emotions, she then told ESPN, "Ek bojh sa hat gaya hai (A weight has been lifted off me)."
Before her performance in the Gold Coast, Anita Chanu, Mirabai's weightlifting coach and former Asian Games lifter, had said, "When I saw Mirabai, I thought she had quality, that she could get an international medal in the future. So I gave her special training and told her parents that she was special, she needed to be sent to training every day, she had quality of the kind that could get international medals. You support her and I will do what I can. I kept going to Mirabai's house and telling them that she was a good lifter. She is a very good girl, dedicated, sincere, had good discipline, did whatever the coach said. Her quality is very good and she has a "killing instinct."
Mirabai, hailing from Imphal, had previously won a silver medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. She had then gone on to qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016, where she was considered India's best chance of winning a second medal after Karnam Malleswari's 2000 bronze.
Heading into the competition, she had set a national record, with a total of 192kg, at the selection trials. At the Olympics, favourites China didn't register a competitor while the remaining lifters struggled on the day. Despite a near open shot at a medal, Mirabai froze on the big occasion. She lifted a sub-par 82 in the snatch and missed all her clean and jerk attempts. As it turned out, her pre-competition lift of 192 kg would have been enough for a silver.
It was only after the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships in October, when Mirabai won gold with a total lift of 189kg (with 85 in the snatch and 104 in the clean and jerk) did she feel the weight go off her shoulder. "There is no pressure on me. At one time there was. Now it is gone," she had said.
With this addition, she will begin preparations for her next big target - the Asian Games - on a high note.