Name: Sanjita Chanu
Category: Women's 53kg
Past CWG performances: Gold medal in women's 58 kg category at 2014 Commonwealth Games
Best performances: Gold medal in 2017 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships.
No state has done as much to produce champion weightlifters as Manipur has. Situated in the northeastern part of the country, Manipur has been consistently acting as a supply line for international-quality weightlifters — starting from N Kunjarani Devi to Mirabai Chanu, who recently won gold at the World Weightlifting Championships, the state of Manipur has unearthed and developed many such illustrious weightlifters.
Also hailing from Manipur is Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu, who was inspired by the legendary Kunjarani Devi and took up the sport quite early in her life. Success too came early for her as she went on to clinch the first gold medal in the last edition of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow at the age of 20. She won the yellow metal in the 48kg category, overcoming statemate Mirabai, who won the silver in the same category. Sanjita won with a total lift of 173kg (77kg + 96kg) while Mirabai grabbed the silver with a cumulative effort of 170 (75kg + 95kg).
Such was Sanjita’s dominance that her total of 173kg missed the Games record by just two kilograms.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Sanjita would look to replicate the medal-winning performance albeit in a different category — 53kg.
Sanjita qualified for this year’s Games after clinching gold at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships. She bagged the gold in women's 53kg with a total effort of 195kg (85kg + 110kg).
But the task of repeating her 2014 victory would be quite tough this around considering her recent form. At the World Weightlifting Championships last year in November, where Mirabai clinched gold, Sanjita could not live up to her potential. She finished fifth in her category. Early this year, Sanjita came second behind M Santoshi of Railways at the national weightlifting championship held at Moodabidri in Karnataka. Incidentally, it was Santoshi who finished second behind Sanjita in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship held few months ago.
Apart from those setbacks, she was also overlooked for the Arjuna Awards last year. Despite having ‘better achievements’ and ‘higher qualification marks’ than those who were selected, Sanjita was ignored from the final list. After the omission, Sanjita filed a writ petition against the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs before the Delhi High Court.
So it has not been all rosy for Sanjita going into the Commonwealth Games. Apart from the form troubles, she will also be under the shadow of more popular Mirabai. But that does not take away the fact that she is still one of the favourites to clinch gold in her category. She will look to get back some of the lost confidence with a gold-medal winning effort in Gold Coast.
Updated Date: Mar 17, 2018 11:36 AM