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Mirabai Chanu: She travelled 20 km each day to her training centre in Manipur!

Mirabai Chanu is a weightlifter from Manipur state of India, a Padma Shri who created history after winning India’s first medal of the Tokyo Olympics when she clinched silver in women’s 49kg weightlifting event on Saturday. Here are some unknown facts regarding her family, her struggle, her parents struggle which helped her to emerge stronger in the run to Olympics:

Mirabai Chanu used to travel 20 kilometre each day from her house in Nongpok Kakching to training centre either on tuk-tuk, bicycle or ride a truck while crossing straw-strewn fields and fish farms to reach Imphal.

Chanu won many World Championships and multiple medals at the Commonwealth Games and was also awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the Government of India in 2018.

Her father, Saikhom Kriti Singh worked in the Public Works Department. With six children to raise. his salary was just about enough for hand-to-mouth existence.

Mirabai was 12 when she first visited the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Imphal at the Khuman Lampak Stadium. While she wanted options for archery training but could not find any on the said day.

Incidentally, she saw a few clips of Kunjarani Devi, who won the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold in weightlifting, and then visited the SAI centre again.

Next, Mirabai trained at Chanu’s centre for four years where she would daily traverse 20-odd km between her home and Imphal. Her dreams were realised when she made the cut for Rio 2016. However, things didn’t go as planned for she failed to lift the weight in her designated three attempts in clean and jerk section.

But she continued with her efforts and hence clinched a medal at Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.

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