INDIA WINS FIRST SILVER AT TOKYO OLYMPICS. Weightlifter Mira Chanu clinched the Silver in 49 KG category

July 24, 2021 07:05 PM

INDIA WINS FIRST SILVER AT TOKYO OLYMPICS. Weightlifter Mira Chanu clinched the Silver in 49 KG category

A confident smile never leaving her face, Mirabai Chanu ended India's over two decade-long wait for a weightlifting medal at the Olympics, clinching the 49kg category silver medal five years after leaving the same platform in tears following a disastrous debut.

With her historic triumph, she ensured that India was second on the medals tally for a brief while, a feat that has never been achieved before by the country. It was also the first time that India managed to win a medal on the opening day competitions.

The diminutive iron lady from Manipur lifted a total of 202kg (87kg+115kg) to better Karnam Malleswari's bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. With this, she exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate lift, leaving her shattered.

"I am very happy, I have been dreaming of this for the past five years. I am very proud of myself right now. I did try for gold but even silver is a great achievement for me," Chanu told reporters after her career-defining triumph for which she had been training in the US for past few months.

The 2016 experience was a watershed in her career and Chanu had spoken about how confused she had felt during her debut at the biggest stage. There was none of those nerves on Saturday. everyone saw her as a very composed and focussed athlete who knew she was destined for the podium.

"I am very happy to win the first medal for India at these Games. I don't just belong to Manipur, I belong to the whole country," she said in response to a query on what it meant for her as a Manipuri.

"I would like to thank my coach Vijay Sharma and the support staff for their continuous hard work, motivation and training," she added.

Her smile shone the brightest during the entire performance on Saturday. But also hard to miss were the Olympic rings' shaped earrings that she was sporting, which were a gift from her mother.

"I would like to thank my family, especially my mother for a lot of sacrifices and believing in me," she said.

The gold went to China's Hou Zhihui with an effort of 210kg (94kg+116kg), who created Olympic records in all three categories (snatch, clean and jerk and Total).

"I've tried many times to beat her. I failed one attempt (on clean & jerk) but I was trying very hard to beat her," Chanu said.

Aisah Windy Cantika of Indonesia took home the bronze with an effort of 194kg (84kg+110kg).

The diminutive Manipuri broke down after realising that she has secured a medal and hugged head coach Vijay Sharma in jubiliation. She later broke into a Punjabi bhangra too to celebrate the historic podium finish.

As soon as her podium finish was assured, the whole country broke into frenzy, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulating her. Hailing Chanu's silver medal win in the Tokyo Olympics, Modi said on Saturday that India is elated by her stupendous performance and that it couldn't have asked for a happier start to the grand sporting event.

Chanu became the first Indian weightlifter to win a silver medal in the Olympics.

"Could not have asked for a happier start to Tokyo2020! India is elated by Mirabai Chanu's stupendous performance. Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting. Her success motivates every Indian," Modi tweeted with the hashtag 'Cheer4India'.

Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra penned a heartfelt note for Chanu, saying the Indian weightlifter's stupendous achievement will "serve as a small reminder of joy" at a time when the country is battling a raging pandemic.

"Your outstanding performance in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is sure to be remembered as one of the best by an Indian athlete at the Olympics Games and shall also serve as an inspiration for generations to come," Bindra wrote in the letter while congratulating her.

"During these rough times of the pandemic, when lives have come to an abrupt halt and mere survival has become an isolating task, victories such as yours will serve as a small reminder of the joy that hope and perseverance can bring," Bindra wrote.

Silver medal-winner Mirabai Chanu's coach Vijay Sharma will get Rs 10 lakh after his ward's historic feat as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Saturday announced cash rewards for coaches of Olympic medal winners. The coaches of gold medal winners will get Rs 12.5 lakh while those of bronze medallists will be given Rs 7.5 lakh by the IOA.

However, not everything  went well for the Indian contingent on the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics, with the country experiencing some setbacks from medal contenders in a number of categories. Sourav Chaudhary made hopes soar with a fine display in the qualifying round of the 10m air pistol event, only to crash out of the finals with a 7th place finish. But Saurabh Chaudhury still has another chance, in the mixed team event with Manu Bhaker.

India's campaign in the mixed team archery event at the Tokyo Olympics came to an end as Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav lost 2-6 to Korea's An San and Kim Je Deok in the quarter-finals after winning the first round.

Indian boxer Vikas Krishan, another medal contender, lost out to Quincy Mensah Okazawa of Japan in Preliminaries - Round of 32 bout.

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