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Tokyo Olympics: India's silver medal winner Mirabai Chanu returns to warm reception

New Delhi, July 26: Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu returned to the country on Monday after her superb silver medal-winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics and was greeted enthusiastically at the airport. Chanu walked out of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, flanked by security and clad in a face shield and mask.

"Happy to be back here amidst so much love and support. Thank You so much," she tweeted after landing.

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The 26-year-old was greeted with chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and felicitated by officials of the Sports Authority of India among others. Inside the airport, she was felicitated by officials of the Sports Authority of India among others.

Once out, the young star was mobbed by the waiting media, leading to a melee and had to be completely enveloped by security personnel as she made her way through. She is scheduled to meet sports minister Anurag Thakur later in the evening.

The diminutive Manipuri lifted a total of 202kg (87kg+115kg) in the 49kg category to better Karnam Malleswari's bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics on Saturday.

With that performance, she exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate lift, leaving her shattered. Chanu has also been a former world champion and a Commonwealth Games gold-medallist. She was training in the USA before the Games and lived up to the medal expectations from her with a confident performance.

Mirabai took to social media to thank the government for all the support extended to her in the wake of winning the silver medal in women's 49 kg weightlifting on Day 1 of the Olympics.

On her social media accounts, Mirabai wrote, "Would like to especially thank Sports Authority of India and Target Olympic Podium Scheme for extending every possible support for my continuous training in the country and abroad. This medal is only possible because of the teamwork. Thank you once again."

Mirabai travelled to St. Louis, USA with support through the TOPS scheme to work with renowned physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach Dr. Aaron Horschig ahead of the Olympics at a cost of 70 lakhs.

This decision to send Mirabai to USA was taken in a matter of a few hours after it became apparent that the country would close down for Indian travellers. She boarded a flight on May 1, a day before the US ruled not to let Indians fly there due to growing Covid-19 incidences in India.

The government had earlier funded her visit to the USA between October and December 2020 to visit Dr. Horschig to help her in improving her technique to prevent the pain that occurs in her shoulder and back.

Apart from her visits to USA for her stint with Dr. Horschig, the Government had assisted with her injury rehabilitation in 2018 with expert physios Heath Matthews and Shrikant Iyengar.

The government had also provided her with a weightlifting platform in her hometown which she could use on non-training days. Her participation in six international Olympic qualifier events through which she secured participation for the Tokyo Games was also funded by the Government.

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Story first published: Monday, July 26, 2021, 18:22 [IST]
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