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How Mirabai Chanu showed true grit to perform spectacular snatch save

On way to her World Championship silver medal, a 'no lift' by Mirabai Chanu drew loud boos from the crowd. She repaid the faith with a snatch save for the ages. Head coach Vijay Sharma tells The Bridge he has seen her do such miracles before.

How Mirabai Chanu showed true grit to perform spectacular snatch save

Mirabai Chanu was caught in a tight spot during her 3rd snatch lift. (Screenshot)


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 7 Dec 2022 9:57 AM GMT

Mirabai Chanu won two silver medals - one in the overall tally and one for clean and jerk - at the Weightlifting World Championships in Bogota on Tuesday night, but her most heroic act was in the snatch section — where she finished 5th.

At the outset of the event, it was clear that Mirabai was struggling with a wrist injury. Snatch, her weaker suit, was always going to be an added challenge as this lift requires a wider base, thus putting more pressure on the wrists.

With a heavily strapped left wrist, she entered the arena. She successfully lifted a modest 84kg with her first lift, but her whole body seemed to shift to the right as she lifted, signalling possible trouble ahead.

Mayhem ensued in the arena after her second lift, at 87kg, was disqualified because of a wobble in her left elbow. The crowd booed loudly, suspecting their favourite lifter had been done wrong.

It was then that Mirabai came up with the most spectacular piece of action of the night. Going for 87kg again with her final snatch attempt, she wobbled again. When she took a step forward with her left leg, it seemed like the game was up. But she kept her presence of mind to hold her position, even if it looked awkward, and ended with an explosive jump, a wide smile and a punch in the air to celebrate. The crowd reciprocated.

"The one big difference I have noticed in recent years is that whenever I go to compete in overseas competitions, the crowd supports me like it's a football match. It gives me a push when I hear them chanting India's name," Mirabai Chanu had told The Bridge after her Commonwealth Games win.

Colombia might not have made it to the FIFA World Cup this time, but they turned up to watch and celebrate Mirabai in similar raucous style, pushing India's braveheart on to a famous win.

Mirabai's heroic lift also elicited admiring reactions from the international weightlifting community:

But not just crowd support, the ease with which Mirabai managed to save her final snatch lift took a lot of practice.

India head coach Vijay Sharma looked unmoved during the snatch save as Mirabai struggled before recovering. Speaking to The Bridge after Mirabai's event over a telephonic call, he said he has seen her pull off such saves before.

"Mirabai hurt her left wrist during training in September. MRI scans showed that she was taking too much load. There have been too many competitions back to back. Now, one hour of her training everyday is dedicated to injury management, adapting to such situations. She has come up with such saves in training before. It is Mirabai's mental resolve that separates her from the rest," he said.

His biggest takeaway from the World Championships, however, was on how Mirabai managed to win the silver medal even without much preparation.

"This win gives us belief that Mirabai can win the gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics. She did not exert herself here, we need to manage our targets well leading to 2024. The two Chinese lifters are world champions, but we believe they can also be beaten if we do that," he said.

Mirabai's snatch save at 87kg helped her secure the silver medal in the overall tally, her second-ever World Championships medal, as the Olympic silver medallist started her campaign to qualify for the Paris Olympics in inimitable style - bringing crowds to their feet, pulling off impossible saves.

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