It won't surprise anyone if weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on July 30, stands atop the podium while beaming. She will, after all, compete in Birmingham as the frontrunner. Stella Kingsley of Nigeria, would be Chanu's closest competitor.
Stella Kingsley has only achieved a personal best of 168kg (72kg+96kg), which is far less than Chanu's personal best of 207kg (88kg+119kg). Since the previous CWG, Chanu's reputation has only become stronger. She now has a world record, an Asian Championship bronze, and an Olympic silver in her collection.
Mirabai Chanu stated that she will be her actual competition in Birmingham, not her rivals, which is not surprising. "CWG will be easy for me. I will be fighting with myself," Chanu asserts formally having already won a silver (2014) and gold (2018) in the CWG. "There is not much competition in CWG, but that doesn't mean there is no competition. I have to give my best performance keeping in mind the future tournaments," she stated during an open discussion at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NIS).
Chanu has higher goals in mind because there won't be any rivals. She is keen to break her personal 119kg clean and jerk record. "I am thinking of attempting 120kg in the CWG." In the snatch part, the former world champion aspires to break the much-anticipated 90 kg barrier, although she admits that it has become much more of a mental hurdle. "Yes (it has become a mental block). We have planned to lift 91kg or 92kg at the CWG. Hopefully, it will happen." But it's harder said than done, especially because Chanu still has a shoulder issue, to lift almost double your own weight.
She was unable to lift 89 kg twice at a domestic competition earlier this month because of her back, failing to enhance her snatch lift. "My back became stiff (tight) 2-3 days before going. The journey to Nagrota was also five hours. We went from Patiala to Chandigarh a day before the tournament, then took a flight from Chandigarh, which was also late. So the back became tighter."
Chanu has tried to improve her technique after becoming aware of her weakness in the snatch. I've never exceeded 88 kilos. I have decided on that weight. However, I am in a better position now in terms of my training than I was before the Olympics. We set the weights between 80 and 90 kg, which we regularly lift each day, to lift 90 kg in a competition. It's not as if we pull off 90 kg each day, she says. Her personal best lift of 88 kg is 8 kg lighter than China's Hou Zhihui, who won the gold medal in Tokyo and lifted 96 kg. "I have changed my snatch technique. In the snatch, while rising, the toes, back, and shoulder should be in a line. The back and shoulders are very important they need to move fast. Earlier my movement was not synchronized. Now I have changed it."
Chanu acknowledged that she feels pressured to lift more weight in the clean and jerk to make up for her weakness in the snatch. "Yes, I feel if not one, then in the other I have to improve. To reach 96kg, it will take some time and it will be a little difficult for me. "93kg-94kg I can reach. If I perform well in clean and jerk I can get the same total (as the Chinese) or even more."
Chanu, who will be competing for her third CWG medal, will once more be sporting her attention-grabbing gold Olympic ring-shaped earrings that she debuted during the Tokyo Games. Her mother gave her the earring as a present since she had sold her own jewelry in anticipation of the Rio Games in the hopes that it would grant her daughter good fortune. And it offered luck. "I will wear those earrings at the Commonwealth Games. They brought me luck in Tokyo," "Chanu stated while grinning from ear to ear.
Chanu thanked the truckers who very often gave free trips to her training facility in Imphal, which was around 30 kilometers distant from her hometown when she won the silver in the Tokyo Games in a kind gesture. "I found all the truck drivers and because of Corona they were all sitting at home," Chanu reminisced. "They were really happy. I saw them and I thought of those days when they used to keep blowing their truck horns and I would run to get a lift. When I reflect, I remember all the difficulties I had to go through to reach here. But what to do, life is a cycle, kabhi upar kabhi neeche."
The only major tournament where Chanu has yet to establish her dominance is the Asian Games. Due to a back ailment, Chanu had to skip the previous edition. And because the Asiad for this year has been delayed indefinitely, the wait for a victory at the continental competition has gotten longer. "Asian Games is the only medal left. Now I want that. On the one hand, it's good that it has been postponed. On the other hand, it will now be held closer to the Olympics. I have got time for training. But now it will be held alongside other Olympic qualifiers which means I will have to be in competition throughout that period."