Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist Mirabai Chanu all but qualified for the 2024 Paris Games after she finished third in the women’s 49kg Group B event of the IWF World Cup on Monday. Returning from a six-month injury lay off, Chanu lifted a total of 184kg (81kg+103kg) at the tournament, which is the final and a mandatory qualifier for the Paris Olympics. “It feels incredible to come back after an injury. Almost every lift I made today felt clean, clear, and powerful, and I’m leaving this competition feeling strong and confident,” Chanu said.

“The rehabilitation was tough and demanding, but with the support of everyone involved in my rehab and recovery, I pushed through all the complications.” With the completion of her event, Chanu has fulfilled the criteria for the Paris Olympics, which is participating in two compulsory events and three other qualifiers.

The 2017 world champion is currently ranked second in the women’s 49kg Olympic Qualification Ranking (OQR) behind China’s Jian HuiHua.

The qualification period for weightlifting will end on April 28, following which the IWF will notify the NOCs which have athlete(s) ranked in the top 10.

The top 10 lifters from each weight class will qualify for the Paris Olympics.

“The goal was to secure my spot for the Paris Olympics, and now that I am almost through for the Paris Olympics, all my attention is on making a mark at the Paris Olympics,” she added.

Chanu, who last competed at the Asian Games in September where she suffered a hip tendonitis injury, was not at her best, but was able to make five clean lifts.

Her final clean and jerk attempt of 106kg was deemed a no lift on technicality.

“Today’s event was to assess how Mira’s body is progressing given she is returning after six months of injury and rehabilitation. And more importantly to get her confidence back,” chief coach Vijay Sharma told PTI.

“We were not bothered about the qualification, she has already qualified. Now we will focus on peaking at the right time in Paris,” he added.

Chanu’s lifts in the snatch and clean and jerk sections were nowhere close to her personal best efforts.

The 29-year-old has a personal best of 88kg in snatch while she had lifted the then world record of 119kg in clean and jerk at the Asian Championships in 2021.

But given that she is coming off an injury and rehab, Chanu still has time to peak in July and her progress looks good.

She will have a lot of ground to cover up as her opponents had total efforts of up to 221kg in the A category on Monday.

Chanu will be the lone Indian weightlifter at the Paris Games, which will be her third appearance at the Olympics.

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