Mirabai Chanu, the Olympics silver medalist in the 49kg class at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will compete in the 55kg division in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK. The decision comes after the IWLF urged that the 2017 world champion bulk up so that India has a better chance of winning medals.
In the 55kg division, the IWLF believes Mirabai Chanu has a greater chance of defeating in-form Nigerian weightlifter Adijat Olarinoye than Bindyarani Devi. Bindyarani Devi placed second to Olarinoye in the Commonwealth weightlifting championships in December.
“Desh ke liye kuch bhi karoongi (I will do anything for my country). I know it will be very difficult for me but I will still give it my all and hopefully, we will be able to show the results that we are after,” Mirabai Chanu told The Tribune.
Mirabai Chanu's weight class transition will be a significant adjustment. In the 48/49kg division, the Manipuri ace won all her major international medals, including Olympic silver and world championship gold. She also owns the division's world record for clean and jerk (119kg).
She is the defending Commonwealth Games champion in the category, and her current ranking ensured her a straight berth.
Mirabai Chanu, who hasn't competed since the Tokyo Olympics, will have to navigate a lengthier journey in the 55kg division. Mirabai Chanu will have to place in the top-eight at the Singapore weightlifting international in February, which is the last qualifying event for the CWG, to make the division.
“I cannot wait to compete again. We made a conscious decision to stay away as I was desperate to rest my body. For me competing regularly was the norm and now I have not entered a competition in six months. I am eagerly waiting for the Singapore meet,” Mirabai Chanu said.
Vijay Sharma, India's main weightlifting coach, praised Mirabai Chanu's choice, saying, "The good thing about Mira is that she trusts us, therefore when the news was conveyed to her, she consented instantaneously."
Mirabai Chanu would most likely be replaced as India's top bet in the 49kg category at the CWG competition by Jhilli Dalabehera.
In Chanu's absence, Jhilli Dalabehera, an Asian Championships gold medalist in the 45kg, went up in weight to compete in the 49kg at the World Weightlifting Championships 2021.
Mirabai Chanu will most likely return to her original weight category before the end of the year.