New Delhi, July 30:

Mirabai Chanu, one of India’s top gold medal prospects, lived up to expectations by clinching the first gold medal for the country at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 in the women’s 49kg weightlifting final. Chanu, who had won the gold four years ago in Gold Coast, not only defended her title successfully by lifting 201kgs (88kg in snatch and 113kg in clean and jerk) but set a Games record. Chanu’s efforts secured India’s third medal of the day – all three in weightlifting after Sanket Sargar had won silver and Gururaj Poojary had claimed bronze in their respective events.

Just how dominating Chanu’s performance was can be estimated from the fact that between her and silver medallist Marie Ranaivosoa of Mauritius, the difference was a huge 29kgs. It took a while for Chanu’s turn to come but you knew she was up next when they support staff added weights on the bar bells. In the first attempt itself, Chanu successfully lifted 84kg, taking an 8kg-lead over the second best. In her next snatch attempt, Chanu added 4 more kgs and lifted 88kgs with ease, storming to her personal best and setting a CWG record. Heading into CWG, one of the hypes surrounding Chanu was whether she would be able to lift 90 kgs. She decided to go for it but unfortunately, wasn’t able to pull it off.

That little blip however had little affect on the outcome of the contest. In her first attempt of clean and jerk itself, Chanu lifted 109kgs to confirm the record and India’s first gold of this edition of the CWG. But Chanu wasn’t content there. In her second attempt, she added 4 kgs more, gripped her hands around the barbell and successfully lifted a whopping 113 kgs. Chanu attempted 115 kgs in her final attempt, and although she couldn’t land this one well, it did not matter. It was finally time for the Indian National Anthem to play out loud in the arena.

This is Chanu’s first big result since her Olympics exploits last year. Much like her other celebrated Olympic medallists, the 27-year-old weightlifter has gone a bit quiet post her Tokyo thud. Chanu had competed in just one tournament since the Games last August, at the Singapore International in February where she won the 55kg category lifting 191kg. After that, she parked herself in St. Louis, USA with her long-time strength and conditioning coach Dr. Aaron Horschig, infusing more power to both sides of her shoulder, which is often in the spotlight.

The Manipuri weightlifter is in a league of her own at the CWG level, competing with her inner quest of pushing the boundaries. Chanu’s entry total for Saturday has been listed at 205kg, which was her personal best at the Asian Championships last year (86kg snatch + 119kg clean and jerk, a world record). Among the nearest rivals from the 10 others in her 49kg category is Nigeria’s Stella Kingsley who lifted a personal best of 168kg last year.

India have been the traditional powerhouses in weightlifting at the CWG with more than a ton of medals to flaunt. Four years ago in Gold Coast, the country’s weightlifters swept nine medals, five of them being gold including Chanu in the 48kg. Four years later, it’s only the second day and we have already had three, with one more likely to be added late tonight.