Not only did Olympic medallist Saikhom Mirabai Chanu bring laurels to India, but the champion is teaching us humility as an essential virtue. Recently, she rewarded 150 truck drivers of her area who provided her with free rides during her training days.
A native of Manipur's East Imphal, Chanu faced financial difficulties for most of her life, hampering her training at times. Finding public transport was a task in the village she hails from, and private transport was a privilege. She had to cover a distance of 30 km to the training academy every day.
However, many samaritans provided her free rides in their trucks regularly, from her home to the academy.
On Thursday, August 5, the 26-year-old expressed her gratitude to all of them and gifted them a shirt and Manipur scarf. According to media reports, she also hosted a lunch as a token of love.
Chanu's humility is winning the hearts of netizens.
Speaking to Olympics.com, her brother Saikhom Sanatomba Meitei informed that the training centre was 20-30 km away from their home on hilly terrain, and Chanu would receive ₹10-20 from her parents for her journey. But transport was still an issue.
The trucks carrying sands used to leave early in the morning from the nearby area, and some of them crossed the training academy. So the family would, many times, send Chanu with them.
Pride of India
Chanu won silver in the women's 49kg weightlifting category at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, July 24.
From carrying bundles of firewood on her head to becoming an Olympic champion, Mirabai is a breathing testament of hard work.
Her inspiration for the sport has been weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, a seven-time silver-medallist in the World Championships and a Manipur resident. The champion was first trained under coach Anita Chanu and would travel kilometres daily for her training.
Journey From 'Did Not Finish' To 'Silver'
Chanu earlier learnt techniques by using bamboo trunks as barbells for a few months and later switched to the designated tools. After two years of consistent hard work, she made it to the first national camp, where she bagged gold.
She was honoured with her first national medal in 2011, in the junior category. In 2014, she touched the international stage at the Commonwealth Games and representing the country in the women's 48kg category in Glasgow, and bagged silver.
She participated in the Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, but did not win anything. However, this did not bring her spirits down. In 2016, she qualified for the Rio Olympics.
This was one of the most challenging times Chanu had faced. The Rio Olympics games turned into a low point as she failed to finish in the 48kg category. She failed to lift 104 kg in her first attempt in clean and jerk and twice in the 106 kg. The term 'Did Not Finish' (DNF) was written in front of her name.
But as always, she came back stronger. A year after Rio, Chanu won the gold medal in the 48 kg category by lifting 194 kg in total in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships at Anaheim in the U.S.
The unstoppable weightlifter grabbed the gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, lifting 196 Kg.