Mirabai Chanu ended India’s 21-year wait for an Olympic weightlifting medal by winning a silver medal in the 49kg category here on Saturday. The 26-year-old lifted a total of 202 kilogrammes (87 kilogrammes + 115 kilogrammes) to surpass Karnam Malleswari’s bronze medal performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This effectively exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games, during which she did not log a single legitimate lift. Hou Zhihui of China won the gold with a weight of 210kg (94kg+116kg), while Indonesia’s Aisah Windy Cantika took home the bronze with a weight of 194kg (84kg+110kg).
Chanu attempted 84kg in her first snatch attempt, despite her perceived weakness in the run-up to the marquee event. The Manipuri took her time and ejected the barbell cleanly.
She lifted 87kg on her subsequent attempt and increased it to 89kg, which was one kilogramme more than her personal best of 88kg set at the national championship last year.
However, she was unable to improve on her personal best and finished second in the snatch event with 87kg, just behind leader Zhihui, who set a new Olympic record with a 94kg effort.
Additionally, the Chinese lifter owns the world record (96kg) in the category.
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Chanu, the section’s world record holder, lifted 110kg and 115kg in his first two attempts.
Despite the fact that she was unable to raise 117kg in her final attempt, her performance was sufficient to earn her a medal and open India’s account.
Mannipuri broke down in tears upon learning she had won a medal and embraced her coach in joy.
She later performed a dance in celebration of her historic podium finish.