Kolkata: The moment Indonesian Windy Cantika Aisah failed to lift 87kg in the snatch at the Tokyo Olympics 2020; India was assured of another Olympic medal early on Saturday. Although the 19-year-old went on to clear all her three clean and jerk attempts, it did not stop Indian Saikhom Mirabai Chanu from clinching her maiden Olympic silver.
It is also the second Olympic medal in India’s weightlifting history after Karnam Malleswari bagged the bronze at 2000 Sydney Games. This is the first time India has won a medal on Day 1 of any Olympics (India participated in 24 Olympic Games before Tokyo).
Not only, Mirabai Chanu’s silver lifted the country’s morale at the Tokyo Olympics but will also motivate her compatriots in the Japanese capital to push for a bigger medal haul. An elated Malleshwari spoke exclusively to The Lateralz about her feelings and a lot more.
Q. Mirabai Chanu becomes the second Indian to lift an Olympic medal in weightlifting. How do you feel as the pioneer?
It’s a proud moment for everyone. I am very happy and sent my heartiest congratulations to Mirabai Chanu and her family, team members, coaches and everyone associated with this success. She performed splendidly on the day and a medal on the first day adds more joy to the feat.
Q. This is the first time India has won a medal on Day 1 of any Olympics. Do you think Mirabai’s silver will act as a motivator for other Indians in Tokyo?
Definitely! It will motivate the Indians out there in Tokyo. When someone gets a medal on the first day itself, it automatically encourages and motivates the others from your country to give their best in their respective events. Mirabai Chanu’s silver will make them more confident.
Q. When did you feel Mirabai Chanu could win a medal?
The girl (Windy Cantika Aisah of Indonesia), who won the bronze; her failed third attempt in the snatch helped Mirabai Chanu a lot. If the Indonesian girl had lifted that cleanly, she would have given Mirabai a run for the money.
Q. Have you interacted with Mirabai Chanu after her feat?
My last interaction with Mirabai Chanu was almost two years back when I went to Patiala. After that, she was travelling outside the country most of the time because of her training and competitions. Hopefully, will speak to her soon.
Q. With Mirabai Chanu winning silver, how do you think it will impact and encourage the younger generations to come?
My time in the sport and today’s time – it’s a hell and heaven difference. It would be silly to compare the two generations. During our days, there was no awareness for the game, no facilities and nobody knew who is an Olympic champion or a world champion. Time has changed and nowadays small children in villages know what is happening in the sporting world. The way our Prime Minister spoke with the athletes individually before the Tokyo Olympics and now after she won the medal say it all. Everyone is congratulating her. Her medal-winning moment is being televised widely.