Mirabai Chanu is an Indian weightlifter who won the silver medal in the women’s 49 kg category at the Olympics (2020) held in Tokyo.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was born on Monday, 8 August 1994 (age 28 years; as of 2022) in Manipur. Her zodiac sign is Leo. In her childhood, she used to travel around 44 km every day for her training in weightlifting as there was no weightlifting training centre in her village. In an interview, while talking about it, she said,
The coaches would give us diet charts in which chicken and milk were an essential part. But, due to her family condition, she couldn’t afford it every day.”
Height (approx.): 4’ 11”
Weight (approx.): 48 kg
Hair Colour: Dark Brown
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Saikhom Kriti Meitei, works at the Public Works Department. Her mother, Saikohm Ongbi Tombi Leima, is a shopkeeper. She has five elder siblings including one brother named Saikhom Sanatomba Meitei, and two sisters named Saikom Rangita and Saikhom Shaya.
Mirabai Chanu with her parents
Mirabai Chanu with her family
Mirabai Chanu’s autograph
In 2008, she started her training in weightlifting at Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in Imphal. When she was 11 years old, she won a gold medal in a regional weightlifting competition for the first time. In 2011, she participated in the International Youth Championship and won a gold medal in it. Mirabai won the best lifter award at the Junior National Championship (2013) in Guwahati. At the Commonwealth Games (2014) in Glasglow, she lifted a total of 170 kg and won a silver medal in the women’s 48 kg category. On 31 August 2015, Mirabai was appointed in the Indian Railways as a senior ticket collector. In 2016, she qualified in the women’s 48 kg category at the Rio Olympics, but she could not win a medal in the event. During an interview, while talking about it, she said,
I was really low after the Olympics. It took me a lot of time to get over the disappointment. I even thought of giving up the sport and stop training. The comments in social media, the criticism against my coach really hurt me.”
In 2017, she was selected in the women’s 48 kg category in the World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, CA, United States. After almost 22 years, she won a gold medal for India by lifting 194 kg in total. Earlier, the Indian weightlifter Karnam Malleswari had won a gold medal in the World Weightlifting Championships 1994 and a gold medal in the World Weightlifting Championships 1995. Mirabai then represented India at the Commonwealth Games 2018 and won India’s first gold medal in weightlifting under the women’s 48 kg category. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Chanu became the second Indian weightlifter to win a medal in Olympics only after the Indian weightlifter Karnam Malleswari. On 15 January 2022, Mirabai was appointed as the Additional Superintendent of Police (Sports) by the then Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. She also received a cheque worth Rs 1 crore as a reward.
Mirabai Chanu with her parents after being appointed as Additional Superintendent of Police (Sports) by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh in Imphal on 15 January 2022
On 25 February 2022, she was qualified to participate in the Commonwealth Games (2022) under the 55 kg category. She qualified after winning a gold medal in the Singapore Weightlifting International competition. She has been trained under the Indian coaches Vijay Sharma and Aaron Horschig.
Mirabai Chanu with her coach Vijay Sharma
Mirabai Chanu with her coach Aaron Horschig
- Gold- Gold Coast (2018)
Mirabai Chanu on winning a gold medal in Commonwealth Games 2018
- Silver- Tokyo Olympics (2020)
Mirabai Chanu with her Silver Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Chanu made a record by lifting 119 kg in clean and jerk at the Asian Championships held in Tashkent in April 2021.
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for Weightlifting in 2018
Mirabai Chanu receiving Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
- BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year in 2021
- In her leisure time, she loves to travel, listen to music, and play basketball.
Mirabai Chanu playing basketball
- She follows a non-vegetarian diet.
- One of her favourite dishes is a Manipuri vegetable stew named Kangsoi.
- During an interview, she shared that her ideal was the Indian weightlifter Kunjarani Devi. She said,
When I was a kid, I first saw Kunjarani Devi, the sport looked so appealing, I was baffled at how she was lifting such heavyweights. So I told my parents that I wanted to do this, with much reluctance they agreed. In our state, you can compare Kunjarani to weightlifting and Sania Mirza is to tennis. Every Manipuri girl wanted to be like her. I saw Kunjarani Devi’s performance at the 2004 Olympics and dreamt of podium glory.”
- Chanu had to miss her sister Shaya’s wedding to participate in the World Weightlifting Championship (2017). During an interview, while talking about it, she said,
Everyone back home was upset with my decision to miss my sister’s wedding. I had come to California on November 12 to get battle ready as I wanted to erase the bad memories of my disappointing Rio Olympics campaign. This gold is the best wedding gift I could have given to my sister.”
- After winning a silver medal in Tokyo Olympics 2020, her first wish was to eat a pizza from Domino’s. Later, the officials of Domino’s India promised lifetime free pizza to Chanu.
- On 24 July 2021, the then Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced a reward worth Rs 1 crore to Chanu on winning a silver medal in Tokyo Olympics. Later, while talking to Chanu through a video call, Biren Singh said,
The state government will give you a sum of Rs 1 crore. You won’t be collecting tickets at railway stations and in trains any more. I am reserving a special post for you. I am meeting the honourable home minister in the evening. I am not revealing more details now and keeping it a surprise for you.”
- In 2021, she was appointed as the brand ambassador of the Indian football club North Eastern Re Organising Cultural Association FC.
Mirabai Chanu on being appointed as the brand ambassador of NEROCA club
- In the same year, she was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine’s October edition.
Mirabai Chanu featured on the cover of Vogue magazine
- In 2021, Mirabai was selected by Adidas India as the face of the ‘Stay in Play’ campaign.
Mirabai Chanu in a print advertisement of Adidas