Karnam Malleswari believes that Saikhom Mirabai Chanu can be the strongest contender for a weightlifting medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Malleswari, who was the first Indian woman athlete ever to win a medal in the Olympics in the 2000 edition, says Mirabai can well bring cheer to the country, going by her performance sheet. “Any Olympics is not going to be easy as there is a different kind of pressure. But the feeling of representing your country in such an event supersedes everything else and often spurs you to take you to the next level,” the champion weightlifter said in a chat with The Hindu .
“You need a little bit of luck on the day, but you can look to that only after putting in the effort,” she said.
Looking back on her Olympics journey, Malleswari felt that if she had competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics — when weightlifting was introduced — she would have won gold.
“I was at the peak of my career. Honestly, I was aiming for the gold. However, it [the bronze] still stands as the greatest achievement of my career.
“To stand on the medal podium in my first Olympics is not something I will easily forget. It was truly emotional and fresh in my memory,” Malleswari said.
“When I look back at Sydney Olympics, I sincerely feel that I missed the gold because of a miscalculation by the coach. Normally, in the final lift, heavy weights are not preferred,” she said.
“I realised later that instead of going for 137kg and missing it, if only I had attempted either 132 or even 135 kg, I would have easily won a gold,” she said. “Winning an Olympic medal is something to cherish forever. And, it was treated like gold back home!”
“Despite the stardom which I got after the Olympics medal, I remain the same old traditional girl for I came up the hard way, with my parents sacrificing so much,” she said.