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Mirabai Chanu wins India’s first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Mirabai Chanu must have felt strange bossing the weightlifting area with no one to challenge her. Such a contrast to the events of last year’s Tokyo Olympics, when the Chinese Hou Zhihu lifted weights like shopping bags, forcing our diminutive Manipur girl to come up with her own special in an epic 49-kg lift-off. Then it got her a fantastic silver, paving the way for a memorable Indian Olympic medal haul.

Mirabai Chanu was, in a sense, on her own in Birmingham. Lifting 29 kg more than Mauritius’ second-placed Marie Hanitra Ranaivosoa.

Mirabai Chanu lifted 201 kg in total, 88 kg in snatch and 113 kg in clean and jerk, to set a new CWG record and her personal best.

A banner from the stands made Hindi-speaking attendees at the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull burst out laughing. “Mira tum ho India ka hira” (Mira, you are the diamond of India). She is a diamond, and she is unquestionably India’s lucky charm, the country’s talisman kicking things off with a gold medal performance at the 2022 Commonwealth Games on Saturday.

Even before the Games, it was pretty clear who would win the gold medal in the women’s 49kg category. Mirabai was head and shoulders above the competition. She was 25kg heavier than the second-best competitor prior to the CWG. Mirabai had gone 29kg better than the silver medalist as the Indian tricolour was raised amid the strains of the National Anthem that filled the National Exhibition Centre, giving the Indians present goose bumps.

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She attempted 84kg in three snatch lifts and easily pulled it off. Marie Hanitra Ranaivosoa of Mauritius won silver with a best lift of 76kg in her third attempt.

Mirabai attempted 88kg in her second lift. It was not only about breaking her own CWG record in the snatch (she lifted 86kg at the 2018 Gold Coast), but also about setting a new personal best (earlier it was 87kg).

It was a piece of cake for her to walk to the centre. All three judges ruled in favour of the plaintiff.

She attempted 90kg in the third snatch lift. It was her goal before heading to Birmingham. Unfortunately, it was not to be this time.

The clean and jerk performed similarly. She lifted 109kg and 113kg on her first two attempts,but failed to complete the 115kg lift on her third attempt. While her personal best in clean and jerk is 119kg, the world record, Mirabai stated prior to the Games that she hoped to lift 120kg at the CWG. With 97kg, bronze medalist Hannah Kaminski of Canada had the second-best clean and jerk lift.



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