Mumbai: Two legends — Karnam Malleswari and N Kunjarani Devi — of Indian weightlifting hailed Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, for winning India’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 on Saturday. She won the silver medal in women’s 49kg weightlifting.
“She had a very poor day at Rio de Janeiro but she did not let lose hope, did not let it stall her progress. She worked hard, improved her technique, and has today won a silver medal for India. It’s a great achievement that a weightlifter has won a medal for India after a gap of 21 years,” said Karnam.
It may be recalled that Karnam was the first Indian weightlifter to win an individual medal at the Olympics, when she won the bronze medal in Sydney in 2000. She had grabbed third place in women’s 69kg.
It was only the third individual medal won by an Indian athlete in the quadrennial extravaganza following wrestler KD Jadhav (1952 Helsinki) and Indian tennis legend Leander Paes (1996 Atlanta Games). Both won bronze medals.
“I see this as a positive development for weightlifting in India as it will spur the next generation of weightlifters. It will promote a weightlifting culture in the country as the sport has been facing a lot of issues lately. Young weightlifters would feel that if she can do it, they can too. It is a huge encouragement for young weightlifters and will open a new door for the sport,” Karnam said in an interview with the official broadcaster. “Being the first medal of the Tokyo Olympics, and coming on the opening day of competitions, it has lifted the gloom in the Indian camp as we had missed a couple of medal opportunities. This will give confidence to other members of the contingent,” she Karnam.