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Chances and threats: Can Mirabai Chanu win another Olympic medal at Paris 2024?

What are the chances and threats in front of Mirabai Chanu in her quest to win a second Olympic medal at the Paris Olympics?

Chances and threats: Can Mirabai Chanu win another Olympic medal at Paris 2024?

Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. 


Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 2 April 2024 1:38 PM GMT

Olympic medallist, Mirabai Chanu has returned to the international circuit after a tough six-month injury layoff, at the IWF World Cup in Thailand on Monday. As she has all but qualified for the Paris Olympics, pending an official announcement, Mirabai said, she will now have her full focus on making a mark at the Paris Olympics.

She lifted a total of 184kg - 81 snatch + 103 clean and jerk - to get back her rhythm right before the Olympics. She also confirmed the quota place for her third appearance at the Olympic Games as she maintained her second position in the Race to Paris (R2P) rankings.

This was the first event for her after that heartbreaking Asian Games last year where she picked up a hip injury while attempting her second clean-and-jerk attempt and finished fourth, missing out on her maiden Asiad medal.

What's next

Mirabai had confirmed her qualification for the Paris 2024 from her silver medal-winning performance at the 2022 World Championships, where she lifted 200kg, five kilograms less than her personal best achieved at the Asian Championships in 2021. But she needed another criterion to fulfil which mandated participation in two compulsory events and three other qualifiers. That has now been fulfilled.

It has been one and a half years since then, but she couldn't improve her scoring due to continuous injury concerns.

But as she returned to the competitive field, four months before the Olympics, it offered her a good amount of time to devise her training and get back to full fitness.

Can she emulate her qualification score or better it is a question that is still unaddressed. But her comeback is itself a big confidence booster. Mirabai emphasised how this comeback was important for her in a post on X after her event.

"I am leaving this competition feeling strong & confident. The rehabilitation was tough and demanding, but with the support of everyone, I pushed through all the complications. I couldn't be happier being back on the ramp and lifting for my country," she said after her event at the IWF World Cup.

"Now that I am almost through for Paris Olympics, all my attention is on making a mark at the Paris Olympics," she added.

The competition at the Paris Olympics will not be easier for Mirabai as her opponents have shown significant growth in the last year, and reducing the gap with them will be a massive challenge for her.

Probable threats

Reigning Olympic champion Hou Zhihui of China is back in the hunt to defend her title after leaving behind her fellow Chinese player Jiang Huihua at IWF World Up with a personal best lift of 217kg.

However, there is a possibility that China may not send the 49kg weightlifter because of the International Olympic Committee's country allocation system which allows only three female players to participate from one country across all five weight categories.

If Hou misses out on a place in the Chinese team, this will make 49kg a widely open category, taking the pressure off Mirabai. This will also offer a good opportunity for Mirabai to better the colour of her silver medal won at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

American lifter Jourdan Elizabeth Delacruz and Thailand's Surodchana Khambao will be the biggest threats to Mirabai. Both of these weightlifters have touched the mark of 200kg in their qualification period and will enter the Olympics in good form.

Mirabai won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics with a margin of 6kg, but this time it will not be this easy for her. She has to be in her best form and might need another 200-plus lift, perhaps a new personal best effort, to stand any chance of making a podium finish.

The 29-year-old is in a tricky situation with the sheer rise in competition in her category. But after a cautious comeback in Phuket, making a third-place finish in Group B, confidence resonated in her voice as she is determined to make her mark in Paris.

The missing medal at the Asian Games will make her further hungry for a great showing at the Paris Olympics.

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