Mirabai Chanu’s silver medal is only the second Indian weightlifting medal since Karnam Malleswari’s at Sydney 2000.
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By Naina Arora, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2021 02:37 PM IST
Actor Salman Khan called her ‘Nations superstar and ‘Asli Dabang’. And she very much is as the now Olympics silver-medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu opened India’s medal count at Tokyo Olympics in a resounding victory, clinching a silver medal in 49 kg category in women’s weightlifting event. Her silver is only the second Indian weightlifting medal since Karnam Malleswari’s at Sydney 2000.
“Sab sapna jaisa hai.Bahut bada moment hain mere liye (This feels like a dream),” shares Chanu who always dreamed ahead and has showed the world that dreams do come true. “Jab main game shuru kiya mera sapna tha. Pehle toh samajh nahin aata tha ki kya karna hain..games mein kaise karna hai. But game mein jaake kuch bada achievement lena hai. Isliye main dheere dheer mehnat kiya. Maine sapna rakha tha ki Olympic mein jaake kaisa hoga. Olympic medal lene se kya hoga. Jab se main games shuru kiya tha tabse sapna tha. Bahut mehnat kiya maine.”
Chanu, who is from Manipur, is thrilled that more and more girls will be inspired to take up weightlifting now. “ Bolte hain ‘Ladki kuch nahin kar sakti’. Woh bhi karke dikhana tha pura India ko ki ladki kar sakti hai (I wanted to show everyone that girls have the strength and they can do it),” says Chanu, adding, “Humne karke dikhaya hai. Sabhi ladkiyo ko bhi pata chalega ki ladki kar sakti hai. Ladke se koi kami nahin hai. Koi bhi ladki sports mein jaana chahti hain toh family ki bahut support zaroori hain bahut zyada. Ladki sirf padai hi nahin sports mein bahut kuch kar sakti hai. Jo uske pasand hai. Main chahti hoon ladkiyan weighlifting mein aake, weightlifting aur India ke naam ko upar le jaaye,” she says.
Mirabai Chanu’s Olympics ring-shaped earrings has earned appreciation from even actor Anushka Sharma. (Photo: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)
The athlete is overwhelmed with a congratulatory call from PM Narendra Modi, to messages on social media from actors such as Anil Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu. Actor Akshay Kumar, wrote on Twitter: “What a dream come true for India! Thank you for making us proud. #MiraBaiChanu #TokyoOlympics#Cheer4India #Tokyo2020 (sic).”Abhishek Bachchan also tweeted and said: “Congratulations @mirabai_chanu on bringing India a silver medal in weightlifting and giving us a strong start! #TokyoOlympics #Cheer4India @WeAreTeamIndia (sic).”
Anushka Sharma, even applauded her for her Olympic ring-shaped earring, which her mother gifted by selling off her own jewellery. “Rio ke baad maine man mein aaya tha ki Olympic ka ring main rakha chahti thi (After Rio’s failure, I wanted to keep the ring of Olympics close to me),” she says, adding, “Maine mummy ko bola mujhe aisa chahiye. Woh bole chain ke liye, par chain toh mujhe nahin chahiye thi kyunki Olympic medal chahiye tha. Isliye maine earring mein banwake rakha tha.”
Chanu is loving all the adulation coming her way, and her increase in social media followers count as well. “Main social media itna follow nahin karti thi, sirf training mein focus karti thi. Phone itna use nahin karti thi. Abhi dekha toh itna friends ho gaya hain mera,” she smiles, adding, “ Main khud ko proud feel karti hai. Sabhi ne pehchana hain ki weighlifting kya hai. Aur main kaha se aayi hoon. Sachi bolon toh kisi ko pata nahin chalte thi ki Manipur kaha rehte hai. Manipur chota sa state hai, use hum nikal ke kar sakte hai,” she says.
Her family hadn’t eaten on Saturday till her game had finished, and later celebrated with fish, but she plans to have Eromba, a popular Manipuri delicacy when she goes back home. “Yeh spicy dish main kaafi saalo se nahin khayi hoon. Aur ab khana chahti hoon mummy ke haath hai. Unhone mere liye itna sacrifice kiya tha. Aaj un logo ki wajah se pura duniya pehchani mujhe,” she says.
Her Rio failure had left her disheartened and so much so that she had vowed to win an Olympic medal one day. She credits her coach Vijay Sharma who she says keeps her motivated. “Sabhi players ki alag alag cheez hoti hain. Kuch down bhi chale jaate hai kharab hone se. Mera andar aisa hain ki aaj agar acha nahin hua toh main kal kar sakti hoon. Isliye main taiyari mein rehti hoon. Mere Vijay sir ne bahut motivation diya hain ki kuch fail hote hain toh woh mujhe samjhate hain ki aaj hi khatam nahin hua hain, aage door tak jaa sakte hai. Isliye jo aaya hain use face karna chahiye. Mind ko strong karna chahiye,” she shares.
Ask her if she ever wants a biopic on her, and she laughs and says: “Haan. Jo bhi mere liye movie banayigi woh mere liye bahut bada baat hain. Koi bhi bane toh acha hain. Dekhte hain kya hoga.”
“First of all, I’ll go and have a pizza,” Chanu had said in an interview to a news channel as she couldn’t wait to treat herself to a slice of pizza after years of sacrifice and hard work that led her to the momentous win. And looks her dream is fulfilled for life, as Dominos is treating her to free pizza for life. “@Mirabai_chanu. Congratulations on bringing the medal home! You brought the dreams of a billion+ Indians to life and we couldn’t be happier to treat you to FREE Domino’s pizza for life. Congratulations again!! (sic),” said Dominos_india in a congratulatory tweet.
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