Former world champion Mirabai Chanu will be in focus for her high medal-winning chances at the Tokyo Olympics as the Indian hopes to exorcise the ghosts of a disappointing Rio Games and write a new chapter in the country’s weightlifting history.
Competing in the 49kg category, Chanu is being considered a sure shot medal prospect for India as her personal best of 205kg is only second to China’s Hou Zhihui’s effort of 213kg in the eight-woman field.
The hype is similar to the one five years ago in Rio, where Chanu could manage only one lift from her six attempts and thus could not get an overall total in women’s 48kg event.
The diminutive Manipuri will desperately hope for a different script this time round, one that involves a podium.
While Chanu will have one eye on her competitors’ barbells, the 26-year-old’s main battle will be with herself. In recent times, her performance in the snatch section has often proved to be her downfall in important competitions.
Chanu has managed to match Zhihui, the favourite to win the Gold, in the clean and jerk category, but her personal best of 88kg in snatch pales in comparison to the Chinese lifter’s world record effort of 96kg.
Even USA’s Delacruz Jourdan Elizabeth has a better personal best — 89kg — than the Indian’s, while Aisah Windy Cantika of Indonesia had managed to pip Chanu to win a Bronze in the snatch section at the Asian championship in April.
It is expected that Chanu will try to better her world record lift of 119kg in the clean and jerk category, should the competition demand it.
Interestingly, Chanu has set the highest entry weight of 210kg, which is five kilograms more than her personal best, followed by Zhihui (205kg), who had lifted 213kg (96g+117kg) at the Asian championship.