Weightlifting is a sport in which India have done pretty well in the past couple of years. There have been quite a number of weightlifters who have won laurels for the country at major sporting events lately, and Sanjita Chanu is leading that pack.
The current crop of Indian weightlifters have plenty of talent and potential. They have the firepower to deliver at big tournaments. One of the most talented weightlifters in the country at present is Sanjita Chanu.
Early life of Sanjita Chanu
Sanjita Chanu was born in the Kakching district of Manipur in 1994. She took up weightlifting in 2006 when she was 12 years old.
Her major influence in the sport was Arjuna Awardee Kunjarani Devi who had won a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games at Melbourne.Like Kunjarani Devi, she also began specializing in the 48 kg category.
Early Career of Sanjita Chanu
Sanjita Chanu first showcased her talent at the 2010 Commonwealth Junior Weightlifting Championships. In the Women’s 48 kg category, 16-year old Chanu clinched the silver medal. She was able to lift 83 kg in the clean and jerk section but was able to lift 65 kg in the snatch section, three kg below the winner who also lifted 83 kg in the clean and jerk section.
In 2011, 17-year old Sanjita Chanu bagged the bronze medal at the Junior Asian Weightlifting Championships. She lifted 71 kg in the snatch section and 90 kg in the clean and jerk section.
A month later, Chanu won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships at Cape Town.
Sanjita Chanu participated in her first senior level tournament at the 2011 Asian Weightlifting Championships in China. Chanu’s senior career saw a good start as she won the bronze medal in the 48 kg tournament, lifting 68 kg in the snatch category and 90 kg in the clean and jerk category.
CWG Gold, Fitness problems and change in Weightlifting category for Sanjita Chanu
The breakthrough of Sanjita Chanu’s career came in 2014 when she won the gold medal in the 48 kg tournament at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Chanu successfully lifted 77 kg in the snatch category before lifting 96 kg in the clean and jerk category. Her total was 173 kg which was just 2 kilograms away from the games record.
Chanu won a Commonwealth gold at the age of 20 which was a little more than half the age at which her idol Kunjarani Devi won the Commonwealth gold (38).
She ended in 10th position at the Asian Games in Incheon.
The following year, Chanu won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Weightlifting championships in Pune.
She also took part in the World Championships at Houston. In the 48 kg discipline, Sanjita Chanu ended 14th overall. She was 7th in the snatch category in which she lifted 81 kg. In the clean and jerk category, Chanu was ranked 16th as she lifted 98 kg but was unable to lift 102 kg. Her compatriot Mirabai Chanu ended 9th in the tournament.
With Mirabai Chanu doing well in the 48 kg discipline, her coaches advised her to switch to the 53 kg discipline to increase her chances of medals.
Just five days before the 2017 World Championships, Chanu injured her back and this resulted in her poor showing in the 53 kg tournament while Mirabai Chanu won the gold in the 48 kg tournament. Sanjita was 15th in the snatch category where she lifted 77 kg but was unable to lift 80 kg. In the clean and jerk category, she was 14th she was able to successfully lift 95 and 100 kg but was unable to lift 104 kg. With a total of 177, Sanjita ended the competition in 13th place overall.
Chanu was overlooked for the 2017 Arjuna Awards which many thought was unfair.
Second Commonwealth gold for Sanjita Chanu
Chanu’s build up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games wasn’t very good. She was still battling her back injury from before last year’s World Championships and was unable to win the gold in the National Weightlifting Championships in Karnataka.
Even when Chanu arrived in Australia for the tournament, she wasn’t 100% fit. Hence, the expectations from her were not very high. However, her performance was surprisingly brilliant.
In the snatch category, Chanu created a new games record by lifting 84 kg. In the clean and jerk category, she successfully lifted 104 and 108 kg but was unable to lift 112 kg which would have made her the holder of the games record, both overall and in the clean and jerk category.
Nevertheless, Chanu won the gold medal with a total of 192 kg which was 10 kg more than silver medallist and the 2014 champion Dika Toua of Papua New Guinea.
Despite winning the Commonwealth gold, Sanjita Chanu was disappointed that she was unable to break the Games record.
A few days back, the 24-year old along with three other weightlifters was included in the Sports Ministry’s TOP(Target Olympic Podium) scheme.
With the Asian Games not far away, Chanu will be looking to clinch another gold medal for India although it won’t be easy for her as she’ll be up against weightlifters from China, North Korea and Kazakhstan.
However, Sanjita Chanu is one tough cookie who never backs down and she can be expected to give a much better performance in this year’s Asian Games than she gave in the previous edition.
Given her recent performances, there is no doubt that Sanjita Chanu will produce much better performances in the time to come and who knows, she might even do the unthinkable and clinch a medal at Tokyo two years later.