Focus on Mirabai Chanu in Weightlifting Nationals

KOLKATA: All eyes will be on the former world champion. Mirabai Chanu as the 72nd National Men's Weightlifting Championship and 35th Older Women's Championship kicks off at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra on Monday.

The 2017 World Championship gold medalist will aim to make the most of the national meeting to verify its preparations before the last Olympic qualification event, the Asian championships to be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in April.

Mirabai, which will represent the railroads in the 49 kg category, also won a gold medal (48 kg) at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and is one of the main hopes for the country's medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Other notable Olympic aspiring lifters who will participate in the five-day event are the former gold medalist of the Youth Olympic Games Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67 kg), twice CWG gold medalist Sanjita Chanu , Achinta Sheuli (73 kg), Rakhi Halder (64 kg) among others.

Sanjita, who will represent the railroads in the 49 kg category, had tested positive during the 2017 World Championship and then was suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) In 2019, the international federation revoked the 26-year suspension of Manipuri, making it eligible to compete.

The event will be held for the first time in Kolkata, so it is something special. Around 450 lifters will compete and we all hope that the championship will be a great success. We will try to make the competition clean and we will do everything possible for that. Birender Prasad Baishya , President of Indian Weightlifting Federation , said.

Birender also called Mirabai a top medal contender at the Olympic Games, adding that the country will expect to see the 25-year podium. Mirabai will be the main attraction here and I hope that not only in the nationals, we will also win a gold medal in the Olympic Games, he added.