Mirabai Chanu to skip World Championships, to only appear for weigh-in

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Mirabai Chanu, who has her sights set on an elusive Asian Games medal, will merely commemorate her participation by going through the motions at the World Championships, which is a required Olympic qualifying competition, next week. She won't be lifting any weight there.

The Asian Games will start on September 23 in Hangzhou, China, and the World Championships will start on September 4 in Riyadh. Lifters find it challenging to control their weight and perform at their best at both events due to the close proximity of the two competitions.

"There is very less time between the Asian Games and the World Championships. Since there is compulsory participation at the World Championships, we have decided that Mirabai only travel to Riyadh and give the body weight.

"She will complete all the mandatory protocols like give the dope test, if required. But she will not lift any weight. She is only going there to participate," head coach Vijay Sharma told PTI.

The 49kg weight class competitor who won silver at the Tokyo Olympics has only recorded an entry weight of 60kg for the World Championships. She was assigned to the competition's Group D as a result. Group A is made up of the lifters with the highest entrance weight, followed by group B, and so on.

Chanu would have preferred to forego the competition after winning the 2017 World Championships, but according to the 2024 Olympic qualification regulation, lifters are required to compete in both the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 World Cup.

However, Chanu's cabinet only has one piece of silverware—an Asian Games medal—and the Manipuri has often said that she intends to capture that elusive medal at this year's Games.

However, since weightlifting powerhouses like China, Korea, and Thailand will participate at the continental competition, winning a medal at the Asian Games won't be a simple task.

"We are aiming to cross the 90kg mark (in snatch) at the Asian Games. It's been a while since we have been trying to get over that line. We have been focussing on Mira's snatch here in training," Sharma said.

Chanu is the clear leader in clean and jerk, but her snatch results have been mediocre. The two-time gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games holds a clean and jerk personal best of 119 kg and a snatch best of 88 kg, both of which are world records.

In the current Olympic cycle, five lifters have achieved 90 kg or more in the snatch section, while the world record is 96 kg.

The renowned Indian lifter had to retire from the competition in the Asian Championships in May, the last competition Chanu participated in, due to a problematic hip.

The 29-year-old is presently receiving instruction from Dr. Aaron Horschig in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

"We have to keep in mind Mira's body as well. She is ageing, the chances of injuries increase with age. So we have to be careful with the workload."

"Currently, her body is well. Small niggles here and there keep happening but nothing serious," Sharma said.

A lifter must compete in three of the following competitions in addition to this year's Worlds and the 2024 World Cup: the 2022 World Championships, the 2023 Continental Championships, the 2023 Grand Prix I, the 2023 Grand Prix II, and the 2024 Continental Championships.

At the conclusion of the qualification period, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) will announce the Olympic Qualification Ranking (OQR) for each weight category.

For the purpose of final evaluation, the top three results from the qualifying competitions will be considered.

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