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Accidental weightlifter to Olympic medallist, Mirabai Chanu’s story

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From failing to lift in any of her three attempts in clean & jerk at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games to winning a silver medal in Tokyo, life has come a long way for Indian weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu.

Mirabai, the 26-year-old from Manipur, finished second behind China’s Hou Zihui (210kg — 94 snatch & 116 clean & jerk) with a total of 202kg (87 in snatch and 115 in clean and jerk) to win the silver medal.

Indonesia’s Aisah Windy Cantika took the bronze medal with an aggregate of 194kg.

With this, Mirabai won India’s first medal in Tokyo and became the second weightlifter from the country to clinch an Olympic medal. Karnam Malleswari had won the country’s maiden medal in the sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Mirabai ended a two-decade-long drought in Indian weightlifting — a time in which the sport was tarnished by several doping scandals, including at the 2004 Athens Olympics when Pratima Kumari and Sanamacha Chanu disgraced the country. Mirabai’s medal will also be a balm for a sport that has always produced champions alongside dope cheaters over the years.

An employee of the Indian Railways, Mirabai’s entry into weightlifting was accidental. At the age of 12, she had gone to the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Manipur’s capital Imphal to gone to enrol herself in archery.

The archery centre was closed and Mirabai stepped into the nearby weightlifting arena to enquire about archery. Instead, she got hooked to the sport for life as the weights and weightlifting apparatus attracted her attention. As she had built her strength lugging firewood up and down the hills, weightlifting came easily to Mirabai.

For the next few years, she would travel nearly 20 km daily from her home in Mongkok Kakching village to the state capital Imphal for weightlifting training.

Mirabai moved to Delhi once she made a mark at the national level and soon made it to the national camp.

Her first breakthrough came at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games when she won the silver medal in the 48 kg weight category.

“She is very hardworking and determined and has a strong willpower, which is evident from her comeback after the disappointment she faced in Rio de Janeiro,” says N Kunjarani Devi, a legend in Indian women’s weightlifting, who has won more than 50 international medals including silver at World Championships.

Kunjarani said that Mirabai has come up the hard way, spending years away from home struggling with limited resources.

“Manipur is a small state, not so financially rich. Mirabai comes from a middle-class family and had to struggle a lot to pursue weightlifting. Her parents and family supported her and she also took care of them once she got a job with the Railways. She also got cash awards for winning medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games. As a Manipuri, I feel proud that a girl from my home state has won India’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics,” says Kunjarani, a senior officer with the CRPF posted in Delhi.

“Mirabai richly deserves all the accolades coming her way because she has proven that hard work always pays,” Kunjarani added.

In the last five years, Mirabai has won multiple accolades. She has been conferred upon with the Arjuna Award, was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2018, and the Padma Shri.

In 2017, she became the first Indian after Karnam Malleswari (1994) to win a gold medal at the World Weightlifting Championships. In 2018, she won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. In April 2021, she set a world record in clean & jerk at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent.

But this was also the period when her struggles with injuries began, especially her shoulder and back.

In 2019, she went to the United States for a lengthy rehabilitation-cum-training camp under renowned strength and conditioning coach Dr. Aaron Horschig. Just before the Olympics, she had again flown to the United States to spend two weeks at Dr. Horschig’s academy as the injures had surfaced again and were troubling her.

While people following her career kept their fingers crossed as she flew from St. Louis to Tokyo, Mirabai had determination writ large on her face. She wanted to exorcise the ghost of the Rio Olympic Games once and for all.

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Six arrested from Goa for IPL betting

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 Six persons, five belonging to Nagpur in Maharashtra and one Rajasthan, were arrested on Friday for allegedly running an IPL betting racket in the port town of Vasco, Goa police said.

Police have seized two laptops, mobile phones, television sets and other betting paraphernalia from the persons arrested.

“We acted on a tip-off that accused persons were accepting bets from a rented premise in the Vaddem area of Vasco,” a Goa Police spokesperson said.

The arrested persons have been booked under the relevant sections of the Public Gambling Act.

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IPL 2021: Iyer, Tripathi and bowlers help Kolkata thrash Mumbai by seven wickets

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An emphatic batting performance by Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi coupled with a comeback effort from bowlers helped Kolkata Knight Riders thrash Mumbai Indians by seven wickets at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium here on Thursday. Chasing 156, Kolkata reached the target with 29 balls to spare.

With this win, Kolkata have now registered two out of two wins in their UAE leg of the tournament and are now at fourth place in the points table with eight points from nine matches.

Kolkata were off to a flier with Venkatesh Iyer smacking Trent Boult for a six over deep square leg. He then smacked Adam Milne for a six followed by two fours in the second over. With seven boundaries hit in less than three overs, Kolkata were on a rampage, making chances of comeback difficult for Mumbai.

It needed an off-cutter from Jasprit Bumrah which got Gill (13) to chop onto his stumps, ending the opening partnership at 40. Gill’s dismissal caused Iyer and Rahul Tripathi to tread cautiously. But after the completion of power-play at 63/1, Iyer danced down the pitch to hit Krunal Pandya for a clean six over deep mid-wicket. Rahul Chahar was taken for eleven in his opening over as Iyer and Tripathi took a boundary each off him.

Tripathi smacked a six over long-on before sweeping between long-on and deep mid-wicket for a boundary off Krunal. Tripathi, put down on 43 by Chahar, reached his half-century with a leading edge on scoop going over third man for six. He followed it up with a boundary slogged through mid-wicket off Bumrah.

Iyer, after reaching his fifty in 25 balls, saw his blitzkrieg end at 55 with his stumps disturbed by a slower delivery from Bumrah. Tripathi was undeterred by Iyer’s dismissal and continued to whack Chahar, slog-sweeping over deep mid-wicket followed by an edge which Kishan tried to stop but touched the rope with his leg.

Though Eoin Morgan (7) fell cheaply to become Bumrah’s third scalp of the match, Tripathi and Nitish Rana knocked off the remaining runs, with the latter reverse scoring the winning boundary by sweeping Chahar to seal a famous win.

Earlier, after being put to bat first, Mumbai got off to a flying start with the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock putting 78 runs for the first wicket. But once Sharma fell on 33, the runs started to dry up for Mumbai.

After 75/1 in ten overs, Kolkata kept picking up wickets at regular intervals. Krishna, after conceding 16 in his opening over, came back to dismiss Suryakumar Yadav (5) edging behind to keeper Dinesh Karthik. De Kock went slow in middle overs but managed to reach his half-century in 37 balls. But the pressure of going big forced de Kock (55) to hoick a slower ball off Krishna straight to mid-wicket.

Ishan Kishan (14) pulled Andre Russell for a six over fine leg. But in a bid to go big, Kishan again went for the pull off Ferguson, only for top-edge to be caught by Russell running from long-on.

Kieron Pollard smacked Krishna for a pull over deep mid-wicket before bottom edge on another pull ran through fine leg in the 18th over which went for 18 runs, including a no-ball and two wides. Pollard’s attempt to apply finishing touches ended in a run-out by a throw from Morgan at cover in Ferguson’s final over.

One brought two for Kolkata as Krunal Pandya (12) mistimed to long-on. Ferguson’s final over went for just six runs as Kolkata conceded 75 runs for five wickets in the last ten overs, ensuring that Mumbai were kept to a score of 155.

Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 155/6 in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 55, Rohit Sharma 33, Lockie Ferguson 2/27, Prasidh Krishna 2/43) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 159/3 in 15.1 overs (Rahul Tripathi 74 not out, Venkatesh Iyer 55, Jasprit Bumrah 3/43) by seven wickets.

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RCB skipper Kohli finishes quarantine, joins team for first practice session

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 Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli joined his team-mates for the first practice session here in Dubai early on Saturday morning after spending six days in quarantine on his return from England.

Kohli and pace bowler Mohammed Siraj had reached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on September 12 on a charter flight from London arranged by the franchise. The duo had gone into six days of mandatory quarantine following their arrival.

RCB posted a three-minute video on Saturday morning and tweeted, “Bold Diaries: Virat Kohli joins the RCB team after quarantine — There were smiles, hugs and laughter in the RCB camp as captain Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj and some of our foreign players had their first hit in the nets. #PlayBold #WeAreChallengers #IPL2021.”

The video showed Kohli and several teammates, who completed their quarantine on Saturday, entering the training ground with their kit bags for an early-morning session and being greeted by fellow cricketers and the coaching staff, including South African stalwart AB de Viliers.

Kohli was later seen playing a few lofted cover drives.

Siraj said in the video that, “All the batsmen look in great form. It’s a good thing for the team that (Glenn Maxwell), Virat bhai and AB (de Villiers) sir are all in good form.”

RCB’s director of cricket operations, New Zealand’s Mike Hesson, said that, “It’s always good to be face to face rather than discussing strategy (with the skipper) from a distance. It (six days of quarantine) gave him (Virat) a chance to freshen up. Now working on ensuring we are all on the same page.”

On Siraj, Hesson said, “He has got more and more confident over the last two seasons. Obviously, he has done well for India (in the Test series against England). He is aware of what he wants to do and therefore he shows more confidence.”

RCB will play their opening match of the second leg in Dubai against Kolkata Knight Riders on September 20.

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