INDIA’S Mirabai Chanu will not lift at all at next week’s World Championships, a compulsory qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics, as she aims for an elusive Asian Games medal.
The World Championships are scheduled from next Monday (4) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, while the Asian Games is set to begin in Hangzhou, China, on September 23. The short time between the two events makes it difficult for lifters to manage their weight and peak at both events.
India head coach Vijay Sharma said, “There is very less time between the Asian Games and the World Championships. Since there is compulsory participation at the World Championships, we have decided that Mirabai will only travel to Riyadh and give the body weight. She will complete all the mandatory protocols like give the dope test, if required. But she will not lift any weight. She is only going there to participate.”
Chanu, a silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics and who competes in the 49kg weight class, has registered an entry weight of 60kg at the World Championships. Based on that, she was placed in Group D of the competition. Lifters who register the highest entry weight are placed in group A, followed by B and so on.
Having won the World Championships in 2017, Chanu would have skipped the event – but under the 2024 Olympic qualification rule, it is mandatory for a lifter to compete in the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 World Cup.
On the other hand, an Asian Games medal is the only silverware missing from Chanu’s cabinet . She has insisted she wants to win that elusive prize in this edition of the Games.
Winning a medal at the Asian Games will, however, not be easy as weightlifting powerhouses like China, Korea and Thailand will be competing at the event.
“We are aiming to cross the 90kg mark (in snatch) at the Asian Games. It’s been a while since we have been trying to get over that line. We have been focusing on Mira’s snatch here in training,” Sharma said.
While Chanu leads the field in clean and jerk, her snatch performances have been underwhelming. The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist has a personal best of 88kg in snatch and 119kg in clean and jerk, which is also the world record.
Five lifters have lifted 90kg or more in the snatch section in the current Olympic cycle, while the world record stands at 96kg.
At the Asian Championships in May, the last tournament the 29-year-old Chanu competed in, the star Indian lifter had to withdraw from the competition due to a hip injury.
She is currently training in St Louis, in the US, under Dr Aaron Horschig, whom she has been consulting since 2020.
“We have to keep in mind Mira’s body as well. The chances of injuries increase with age. So we have to be careful with the workload. Currently, her body is well. Small niggles here and there keep happening but nothing serious,” Sharma said.
Apart from this year’s Worlds and 2024 World Cup, a lifter also has to participate in three of the following events – the 2022 World Championships, the 2023 Continental Championships, the 2023 Grand Prix 1, the 2023 Grand Prix II and the 2024 Continental Championships.
The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) will publish the Olympic Qualification Ranking (OQR) of each weight category at the end of the qualification period. The best three performances at the qualifying events will be taken into account for final assessment.