Lack of competition does make it a bit boring: Mirabai

NEW DELHI: It was a stroll to the top of the podium for Mirabai Chanu at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games (CWG), but not without a feeling and a sentiment that elite-level athletes can have but rarely show when there’s lack of competition — that it gets ‘boring’.
En route to a hat-trick of CWG gold medals, the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist knocked off milestones effortlessly. The Commonwealth and Games records in ‘Snatch’ were the first to fall. By the time she missed lifting 115kg in her third clean and jerk (C&J) attempt, she had already rewritten the Games record in C&J as well as in the total weight.

Numbers were never the real context of these Commonwealth Games for Chanu. She lifted 12 kg more in Snatch, 17 kg more in C&J and a ridiculous 29kg more in total than the silver medallist, Marie Ranaivosoa of Mauritius.


(AP photo)
Chanu was right. She called the Birmingham visit a “fight with herself” a few days before in an interview with
Gold medal aside, did Chanu achieve what she had on her mind when she stepped into the weightlifting hall at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham?
The 27-year-old was honest in her reply to that and a lot more in this interview with
Q. Let me start with a tweet you have posted, which had a video of your mother and relatives dancing to celebrate your gold medal in Manipur. Has your consistency turned this into a ritual now?
(Laughs) Until I finished my competition, I didn’t get to see my mobile phone. When I got free, I saw this video sent to me by my mother. She was so happy. It’s a Manipuri dance. The whole village was celebrating. Mom was really happy. I got emotional seeing this, that they love me so much and always pray for my success.

Q. You had said that your fight is with yourself at CWG 2022. And it happened like that, with a one-sided contest for you. How easy or difficult is it to compete with that mindset?
Yes, I knew beforehand that it’s going to be easy at the Commonwealth Games. But I came here with a plan, that in this competition I have to work on myself, so that I can plan better for the future events, what I need to improve. But yes, with no top opponents and lack of fight (competition), it does get a bit boring.


(ANI photo)
Q. You used the word “boring”. It’s understandable for an elite athlete, who has been a world champion before, has won an Olympic silver and now a hat-trick of CWG gold medals, to almost say ‘please, somebody challenge me’…
(Smiles) As I said, this competition was about myself. Sir (coach Vijay Sharma) also kept telling me that this competition is about you, about the work you have done…It felt good as well. Mind got relaxed, that whatever I have worked on (I need to focus on that), to improve going ahead. That’s the feeling I performed my lifts with.
Q. Do you think it would have been tough in the 55kg category had that entry been approved by the Commonwealth Federation?
I was ready for 55kg. My coach had worked on me accordingly, readied me for 55kg and told me to fight and win a medal for India. I told him I was ready because I never give up. My entry in 55kg was planned because we wanted all eight of us (women weightlifters) to be part of CWG, but now one could not compete, seven of us are here.
Q. Your event is generally the first to get over; we saw that at the Tokyo Olympics as well. How do you keep your energy levels high after that to motivate the rest of your teammates?
It’s very important, especially after your event has finished. To get the best out of each other, it’s important to stay by each other’s side. I was there at Jeremy’s (Lalrinnunga) event (Jeremy won gold in the men’s 67kg category), cheering for him, shouting a lot (laughs). It was a great fight in the end with the Samoan and Nigerian lifters. There is another weightlifter to compete today (July 31); I have to go for that as well. So teamwork is important. It’s not that I have won a medal, so it’s over. Supporting each other is important.


(PTI photo)
I couldn’t go for Sanket (Sargar) and Gururaja’s (Poojary) events, because my competition was lined up next. (Sanket opened India’s medal count with a silver in the men’s 55kg category, while Gururaja won bronze in men’s 61kg).
Q. Injuries are commonplace for weightlifters. Do you think it takes time for youngsters like Sanket and Jeremy to learn to control the adrenaline rush in close finishes, especially when it comes to judging correctly the weight they can lift, which is, of course, done with the coaches’ consent?
At times it becomes necessary to lift more weight than we normally do. It depends on the fight in the competition to remain close to the medal. For example, if we are in silver-medal position, how much we can increase to get into a gold-medal position, like the Samoan lifter did today trying to go past Jeremy’s total weight of 300kg in clean & jerk. This is not on players, but on coaches. If they think the player can do it, they agree.

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