The Tokyo Olympic silver medallist will move back to her pet 49kg for the Birmingham Games. The Indian federation wanted to enter her in a higher division.
Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu’s entry in the women’s 55kg category at the Commonwealth Games 2022 has been rejected, which means the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist will move back to her pet 49kg division to compete at the quadrennial meet in Birmingham.
The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) had earlier planned to enter Mirabai Chanu in the higher 55kg division to maximise India’s medal chances at the CWG, to be held from July 28 to August 8.
The Manipuri ace, who had already qualified for the CWG 49kg event courtesy of being the top-ranked Indian weightlifter in the division, accepted the proposal. She then made the 55kg cut by winning gold at the Singapore Weightlifting International in February, which was the final CWG qualifying event.
However, a change in entry rules by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) closed the Indian ace’s prospects of competing in the 55kg at CWG 2022.
According to the new rule, a country’s top-ranked weightlifter in a category qualifies for the CWG but if they withdraw, the next best lifter doesn’t get the berth automatically. As per the old rule, the spot would have gone to the next best or qualified lifter.
Mirabai Chanu’s fellow Manipuri lifter Bindyarani Devi is the top-ranked Indian lifter in the 55kg division. Bindyarani was supposed to move up to the 59kg division if Mirabai Chanu could have participated in the 55kg as per the IWLF’s initial plans.
Jhilli Dalabehera was expected to take up Chanu’s spot in the 49kg division while Poppy Hazarika was to be India’s entry for the 64kg event.
“We were trying that she (Chanu) qualifies in both categories. But the rule has changed. The Commonwealth Games Federation has taken out a new rule that only the top-ranked lifters can qualify in the category, not the second-ranked.” Indian weightlifting head coach Vijay Sharma told the PTI.
In the light of the latest development, former world champion Mirabai Chanu will move back to her 49kg for the Commonwealth Games while Bindyarani Dev and Poppy Hazarika will compete in the 55kg and 59kg, respectively. India will have no entry for the women’s 64kg now.
“Even before we had no hopes for the 64 kg weight class. It was just to field a lifter. Chances of winning a medal in the women’s event were in these three categories (49kg, 55kg and 59kg) only and they still remain,” Vijay Sharma stated.
Mirabai Chanu is the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the women’s 49kg and all her major international honours, including the Olympic silver and world championships gold medal, have come in in the 48/49kg category. She also holds the world record for clean and jerk (119kg) in the division.
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