NEW DELHI: A wrist injury at the National Games this year had made it difficult for Mirbai Chanu to even grab the bar. With the World’s Championships just two months later, the Tokyo Olympics silver medalist had no choice but to deal with the injury. And Chanu did it well. A second medal at the World Championships, a silver medal in the 49 kg category, was worth all the “pain”.
A lift of 87 kg in the Snatch and 113 kg in the clean and jerk were enough to place Chanu in second place on the podium with a total of 200 kg. But that’s where she and her trainer Vijay Sharma put a stop to adding more iron plates. They did not want to risk more pain in their wrists, while there was still a year and a half to go in the qualifying cycle for the Paris 2024 Olympics for weightlifting, which began on August 1, 2022.

But the clean and jerk world record holder (119 kg) had to muster every ounce of her courage and energy in Bogota, Colombia.
She failed an 87 kg snatch attempt before registering a successful lift with great difficulty. Chanu has often mentioned hitting 90kg in the snatch as his goal, but this time it was about staying on the podium while carrying an injury. For this, 87 kg was enough.
The wide grip on the snatch is where she always finds it difficult. Landing the bar overhead in a squat is where Chanu’s weakened wrist muscles are most vulnerable right now.

His first lift of 111kg in the clean and jerk also saw red lights, before landing his second attempt and then adding another two kilos to it for 113kg, earning him the silver medal – behind China . jiang huihuatotal lift of 206 kg (93 kg, 113 kg) for gold. Huihua compatriot and reigning 49kg Olympic champion Hou Zhihui settled for bronze with a total of 198kg (89kg, 109kg).
Beating a Chinese and gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics is something Chanu has always dreamed of doing. When they won gold (48 kg) at the 2017 World Championships, China was not part of the competition held in California. She finished fourth in 2019 and skipped the World Championships in 2021.

When contacted Chanu, she was a little ill, caught by a bad cold and a stomach ache following her competition. But she was kind enough to come back shortly after some rest and sit down to chat.
A second international medal of 2022 after gold at the Commonwealth Games and also a second medal at the World Championships. But you look a little uncomfortable…
Yes, I caught a cold and I have a stomach ache. But it’s a little better this morning after a little rest.
An athlete’s life is tough, isn’t it?
(Smiles). Yes. Training mei bhi focus karna aur baaki sab… Kar rahi hu, sabko khush rakhna hai (must focus on training and also handle everything else. Trying to do that, I have to keep everyone happy). It’s our life.
Your wrist made as much news as your medal. But a remarkable feat to be injured and still finish on the podium…
Thanks. This injury was discovered on the MRI I had after the National Games. Due to overload and overtraining, there is an injury to the muscle. I think they (the doctors) call it a cyst in their language, something bloody. However, the pain is not continuous. He comes and goes. It’s off and on. It was fine in between, but when I was training in the States, I felt the pain again.
How did you succeed in such a competitive field at the World Championships?
Especially in the snatch, it (the wrist) is very important. I wore a bracelet, which I had never done before, but I had to wear it so as not to feel a lot of pain because it would have been very difficult for me if the injury had gotten worse. So I supported my muscles with the band. Also, my physio prescribed me exercise. The small muscles in the wrist feel the load. So I’m all the drills for that. It helped me.
You finished ahead of the Olympic champion but lost to the gold medalist by just two kilograms. Was it a strategic move to not aggravate your injury by adding more weight?
Yes, in the snatch we decided to only go up to a certain weight because of the wrist injury, maximum 88kg. In the clean and jerk I thought I would lift a higher weight, but on the first attempt they (judges) ruled there was no lift.
You, of course, were aware of your wrist…
I couldn’t afford to hurt my wrist more because there are important competitions on the program, such as the Asian Championships and the Asian Games. I’m focusing on that now after recovering from that injury.
So we can say that the gold escaped you because of an injury…
(Smile) Yes.
But you still ended up beating a Chinese athlete. It must be very satisfying…
If they (China and Korea) can do it, why can’t we? So I always thought beating the Chinese was a dream for Indian weightlifting and for me too. It’s a fight between China, Korea and me. So I’m always ready to compete with them.
You are 28 now. The Paris Olympics are surely on your list, but is your body telling you somewhere to take it easy, to manage your workload?
As you practice, something or the other happens. Not just with weightlifters, it can happen with any player (of any sport), little things get weak somewhere. Sometimes I have problems with my back, sometimes with my wrist. Sir (Trainer Vijay Sharma) also advised me that now in the long run I will have to do what I haven’t done before…like which wrist, back, shoulder muscles need to be worked. If I do this regularly, I will be able to maintain my body and avoid injury. I have already started with this before and after training.
What’s next on your to-do list?
The first objective is to recover from this injury (in the wrist)… For me, the Asian Games are very important because India does not have a gold medal in weightlifting in the Asian Games.

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