Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu’s entry in the women’s 55kg category at the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been rejected, which means she will move back to her pet 49kg division to compete at the quadrennial meet in Birmingham.
The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) had earlier planned to enter Chanu in the higher 55kg division to maximise India’s medal chances at the CWG, to be held from July 28 to August 8.
The Manipuri ace, who had already qualified for the CWG 49kg event courtesy of being the top-ranked Indian weightlifter in the division, accepted the proposal. She then made the 55kg cut by winning gold at the Singapore Weightlifting International in February, which was the final CWG qualifying event.
However, a change in entry rules by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) closed the Tokyo Olympics silver medallists’ prospects of competing in the 55kg at CWG 2022.
According to the new rule, a country’s top-ranked weightlifter in a category qualifies for the CWG but if they withdraw, the next best lifter doesn’t get the berth automatically. As per the old rule, the spot would have gone to the next best or qualified lifter.
Mirabai Chanu‘s fellow Manipuri lifter Bindyarani Devi is the top-ranked Indian lifter in the 55kg division. Bindyarani was supposed to move up to the 59kg division if Mirabai could have participated in the 55kg as per the IWLF’s initial plans, an olympics.com report said on April 10.
Jhilli Dalabehera was expected to take up Chanu’s spot in the 49kg division while Poppy Hazarika was to be India’s entry for the 64kg event.
After the latest development, former world champion Mirabai Chanu will move back to her 49kg for the Commonwealth Games while Bindyarani Dev and Poppy Hazarika will compete in the 55kg and 59kg, respectively. India will have no entry for the women’s 64kg now.
The 27-year old Chanu is the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the women’s 49kg and all her major international honours, including the Olympic silver and world championships gold medal, have come in the 48/49kg category. She also holds the world record for clean and jerk (119kg) in the division.