A failed lift in snatch has often brought the curtains down prematurely on Mirabai’s campaign during big-ticket, multi-sport events. Mirabai, the world champion in 2017, is primed to win a silver medal, if not gold, in the women’s 49kg category in Tokyo.
Ranked second in the world weightlifting charts, the diminutive 26-year-old Manipuri has mostly matched her regional rival Zhihui in the ‘clean and jerk’ category, but it’s her susceptible lifts in the ‘snatch’ division which adds vulnerability to Mirabai’s Olympics campaign.
Since the Olympic weightlifting competitions restrict the number of entries to one athlete per nation in each weight category, China has entered the name of Zhihui ahead of reigning world champion Jiang Huihua and Zhang Rong, both of whom have lifted more than Mirabai’s 86kg in snatch.
Indonesian Cantika, too, is ahead of the Indian. Mirabai’s best in snatch is 88kg.
“Since the Rio Olympics, I have evolved a lot. I have worked hard on my technique, especially in snatch. My training methods have changed and I have gotten better. I have worked to bring it at par with my clean and jerk,” Mirabai said.
Mirabai was a medal favourite in Rio but failed to record a single legal lift in her three attempts in clean and jerk to crash out. This time, the Indian looks prepared. On Friday evening, she reached the Narita international airport in Tokyo after undergoing a two-month long training camp in
St Louis, US.
At the camp, she was treated for her recurring shoulder injury by renowned strength and conditioning coach, Dr Aaron Horschig. Mirabai had visited the same physio in November last to work on her lower-back injury.
“He (Dr Horschig) made me do a lot of rehabilitation exercises, not just for my shoulder and back issues. My shoulder gets tight sometimes and that hinders my lift in the snatch category. He brought symetry in the movement of my right shoulder with the left, which helped in perfecting the snatch.
I’m totally fit now and there are no injuries at all,” she added.
Mirabai is lined up to take the mat on the very first day of competitions on July 24.