Mirabai Chanu was a born champion but it was not discovered until her brothers saw her lift a lot of wood all by herself. The journey of the historic legend started and the rest is history. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in the Women’s 49 kg category.
Born on 8 August 1994, Mirabai Chanu hailed from Nongpok Kakching, 20 km away from Imphal, Manipur. She is the youngest of her six siblings. Born into a poor family, her father, Saikhom Kriti Meitei, worked in the State Public Works Department in Imphal as a construction worker, while her mother, Saikhom Tombi Devi, owned a tiny tea-snack shop in the village. To help her family, 12-year-old Mirabai used to accompany her brothers to the jungle to collect wood and that’s when everybody saw her talent. She carried the blocks of wood to her house that her brothers could not.
To think that Chanu went to sign up for archery training in the Sports Authority of India Centre but could not find it and instead saw another female weightlifter, Kunjarani Devi, and got inspired by her is nothing more than a move played by the universe. It was fate and her hard work and ambition that has led Chanu to these heights.
Mirabai used to travel 40 km daily for training, either by cycle or by taking rides in a truck. It was her resilience that never let her stop. Her family continued to tell her about the difficulties of pursuing her dream, but Mirabai continued and joined the academy in 2006 under the training of Anita Chanu. Mirabai began by sharpening her skill with bamboo trunks as barbells, then upgraded to conventional instruments after six months.
She made it to the national camp in 2 years and then went onto winning medals in the state sub-junior category and held her first national medal in the junior category in 2011. Later, she got the national team call-up and joined her idol, Kunjarani Devi. Then came her international moment when she competed at the Commonwealth Games 2014, where she proved herself and won a silver medal, hence showing herself to the world.
One of the downfalls that Mirabai experienced was her heartbreak at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Mirabai didn’t give up and continued her hard work to pursue her goals. She won the gold medal in the 2017 World Championship, Gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth games, gold in 2020 nationals, and Bronze in Asian Championship (49 kg) before her historic win at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The Tokyo Olympics Win of Saikhom Mirabai Chanu:
Mirabai created history on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics by bagging a silver medal for India. The entire nation celebrated the win and congratulated her and her family. Several wishes came in from big celebrities and politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, and many more. Mirabai looked proud and calm and knew victory was hers. Mirabai Chanu, by making the entire nation proud, continues to strive for more success and accomplishments. A Born star, a true legend.