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GANDHINAGAR: Given the fact that weightlifting competitions start within a day or two post the opening ceremony, weightlifter, S Mirabai Chanu, never gets an opportunity to be a part of the special occasion, be it the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medallist, however, on Thursday got a chance to make her debut at the opening gala and she didn't miss it. Given her progress since the last National Games in 2015, the lifter not only witnessed the glittering ceremony in person but also became the flagbearer for her state, Manipur.
"It's true I attended the opening ceremony for the first time and it really felt nice. Becoming flagbearer of Manipur and winning the first gold for my state was the icing on the cake," Mirabai told media persons here in Gandhinagar after finishing on top of the podium in 49kg on Friday.
The 28-year-old former world champion has been head and shoulders above her competitors on the national circuit for some time and the same was on the display once again as she won the competition comfortably with only two attempts each in snatch and clean and jerk sections. Two-time CWG champion. K Sanjita Chanu, also from Manipur, finished second with Odisha's Sneha Soren bagging bronze.
READ HERE | Weightlifting at National Games: Mirabai Chanu pips Sanjita for 49kg gold
Mirabai had finished behind Sanjita twice before eventually overpowering her at the Gujarat Games. She lost gold to Sanjita at the 2014 Glasgow CWG and finished second at the 35th National Games in 2015. Even Mirabai, who has bagged umpteen medals in the international events so far, looked overwhelmed with her first gold at the event.
"The Games are being held after seven years so I was very excited. What's more important is that I have also won my first gold in the event for Manipur."
She took a lead of 2kg over Sanjita after the snatch section by lifting 84kg in her second attempt and then lifted 107kg in her second clean and jerk attempt to pocket the gold with an overall lift of 191kg. Sanjita lifted an overall weight of 187kg (82kg+105kg). Sneha lifted 169kg (73kg+96kg).
Well aware that she had already done enough to finish first, Mirabai didn't take third attempts in both sections. The reason? She didn't want to put pressure on her left wrist, which had been injured a month back.
"I have been feeling the pain in my left wrist for the past month. I think the injury happened because of lifting heavy loads. It was detected during an MRI scan. Because of the injury, I didn't train properly and just to ensure that it does not aggravate further, I attempted only two lifts in both sections," the lifter said.
Speaking further on the nature of the injury, Mirabai said the pain had increased a bit in the last one week. "The pain has increased but I am in regular touch with my physiotherapist and doing all the exercises advised by him. I hope it will get alright in a week."
The World Championships scheduled in December this year is her next target and she doesn't want to leave any stone unturned for the event. "Worlds is my priority as it will also serve as a qualifying event for the 2024 Olympics. The 2022 Asian Games rescheduled for next year will be my next target. I couldn't compete at the 2018 Asiad due to a back injury and next year, if I compete, I will make my debut at the event. I hope to win a medal for my country there as well," she signed off.
Meanwhile, Charu Pesi of Arunachal won gold in men's 61kg while Muna Nayak of Services Sports Control Board and Zakhuma of Mizoram bagged silver and bronze respectively in the same weight category. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)