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Through the rings of fire

5 years after disastrous show in Rio, Mirabai wins silver to open India’s medal account

Through the rings of fire

Tokyo, July 24

A confident smile never leaving her face, Mirabai Chanu ended India’s two-decade long wait for a weightlifting medal at the Olympics, clinching the 49kg category silver medal five years after leaving the same platform in tears following a disastrous debut. With her historic triumph, she ensured that India was second on the medals tally for a brief while, a feat that has never been achieved before by the country. It was also the first time that India managed to win a medal on the opening day of competitions.

The 26-year-old from Manipur lifted a total of 202kg (87kg+115kg) to better Karnam Malleswari’s bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. With this, she exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate lift.

“I am very happy, I have been dreaming of this for the past five years. I am very proud of myself right now. I did try for gold but even silver is a great achievement for me,” Chanu said.

The 2016 experience was a watershed in her career and Chanu had spoken about how confused she had felt during her debut at the biggest stage. There was none of those nerves to be seen today, just a very composed and focussed athlete who knew she was destined for the podium.

“I am very happy to win the first medal for India at these Games. I don’t just belong to Manipur, I belong to the whole country,” she said in response to a query on what it meant for her as a Manipuri. “I would like to thank my coach Vijay Sharma and the support staff for their continuous hard work, motivation and training,” she added.

Her smile shone the brightest during the entire performance today but also hard to miss were her Olympics rings-shaped earrings that were a gift from her mother. “I would like to thank my family, especially my mother for a lot of sacrifices and believing in me,” she said.

The gold went to China’s Hou Zhihui with an effort of 210kg (94kg+116kg), who created Olympics records in all three categories. Aisah Windy Cantika of Indonesia took home the bronze with an effort of 194kg (84kg+110kg). — PTI

Vikas Krishan stands in his corner. AP/PTI

Bruised & battered

Vikas Krishan was left with a bloodied eye in his 5-0 loss to local favourite Sewonrets Quincy Mensah Okazawa in the opening round of the 69kg category. The 29-year-old fought with a shoulder injury. “During the last sparring session in Italy, he injured his shoulder. We had hoped that he would be fine, he started without problem,” India’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva said. PTI

Shooters disappoint

Indian medal hope Saurabh Chaudhary could not replicate the form he displayed in the qualifications to finish a disappointing seventh in the men’s 10m air pistol final. The Indian ace shot 137.4, an hour after topping the qualifications. Earlier, Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela failed to qualify for the finals of the women’s 10m air rifle event.

Nagal wins opener

Sumit Nagal became only the third Indian tennis player to win a men’s singles match at the Olympics, and the first in 25 years, when he edged past Denis Istomin. Nagal won 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4 in two hours and 34 minutes to set up a second-round clash with world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.

Manika off to promising start

Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee won their opening women’s singles matches. However, India’s table tennis campaign began with Sharath Kamal and Manika losing in the mixed doubles Round of 16.

Archers falter

Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav lost 6-2 to South Korea in the quarterfinals of the mixed team archery competition. The duo had beaten Chinese Taipei in the first round. PTI

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