If Hima Das of Assam is hogging all the limelight right now for becoming the only Indian athlete to win a gold medal at an international event, then we also have Manipur’s Commonwealth Games gold-medallist weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu who had clinched India’s first gold at the World Championship in 22 years after lifting a new world record of 194 kg (85kg+109kg) at Anaheim, USA in November last year.
Though her participation at the Jakarta Asian Games scheduled for August 18 next came under a cloud due to a lower back problem, but the world champion says that the “injury is not as bad as first thought and she would need just two weeks of training to be competition ready”.
Mirabai had complained of discomfort in her lower back in May. The injury has since puzzled doctors across the country, who are unable to diagnose the cause. A report published in the The Indian Express quoted Mirabai as saying, “I am confident that in two weeks I can prepare well for the Asian Games. The pain started around May 25. I travelled to several places including Delhi and Mumbai for treatment but the doctors are not able to diagnose what exactly the injury is. All tests have come back normal, the X-rays also don’t show anything.”
The report further stated that with less than a month to go for the continental showpiece, to be held in Indonesia from August 18, the ace weightlifter says the pain is subsiding. “…the treatment prescribed is working, in the past two days the pain has been less. Within 2-3 weeks if the pain continues to lessen, I will be able to lift weights.” The doctors have advised Mirabai, who competes in the 48 kg category, to refrain from lifting heavy weights.
The world champion is currently at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala, where she is limiting herself to just upper body training. “I am in Patiala with everyone else in the camp, because we thought if I get treated here I can resume weightlifting as soon as the pain subsides. I am just concentrating on bodybuilding, and strengthening my upper body,” she said.
A decision on her participation will be made within the next two weeks and the 23-year-old is eager to take part. “I am very keen on participating in the Asian Games because in weightlifting the Asian countries like China, Thailand, and Kazakhstan are the top countries. The competition will be good,” she said.
She had bagged the gold at the CWG in April by lifting a personal best of 196 kg (86kg+110kg), a national record. After coming back from the CWG, she headed straight to the training centre at Shilaru, Himachal Pradesh. Mirabai had also requested the Sports Ministry to install CCTV cameras in her room and training hall as she feared her food could be spiked to implicate her in a doping scandal.