But for her mother, Mirabai would have quit after Rio

Mirabai Chanu almost quit weightlifting after Rio, but her mother's words pulled her out

The 49 kg group weightlifter won the country a silver on the very first day of a India’s most impressive Olympic campaign yet

Chanu spoke about how her mother had been her pillar and motivated her on bad days. Credit: PTI Photo

Mirabai Chanu, who become a household name for Indians after she kicked off India’s medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics, revealed the role her family, especially her mother, in her moment of victory at the Games.

The 49-kg group weightlifter won the country a silver on the very first day of India’s most impressive Olympic performance yet.

“She has been my pillar”, said Mirabai on her mother’s role in motivating her after her Rio Olympics heartbreak.

Read more: In seventh heaven: India sign off Tokyo Olympics with promise of brighter future

Speaking to The Indian Express, the Olympic medallist revealed, that her mother too likes sports, and her family had envisaged that she would become a sportswoman someday.

When she missed out on a medal in her Rio campaign back in 2016 despite her hard work, her mother had asked her not be disheartened by the setback.

“Just after my competition got over in Rio, I called my mother and couldn’t control my weeping. I told her I could not win a medal despite training so much. I knew somewhere she was also disheartened," she said.

 “When you come back, we will talk about it”, Mirabai recounted her mother saying then.

The Olympic winner even thought of saying goodbye to weightlifting after her Rio run. However, her mother stood by her once again and pulled her out of the phase.

 “I asked her what more I needed to do. I even thought maybe I should give up weightlifting”, said Chanu.

“Later, I asked her if I should do so. She said winning and losing are part of sports, that whatever happened has happened, it’s past now, that I should try to plan my future, think of how much more hard work I can do. Later, I realised that I can do a lot, I can plan something. ‘Whatever happened has happened’… it was great motivation from my mother.”

“If I had a bad day, or didn’t have a good day, she would come to know from my voice. She knows when I’m sad or not feeling well. I would lie many times but she would come to know. She used to motivate me regularly, that ‘If today is your bad day, keep working hard, tomorrow will be your good day’," she told the publication.

At early points in her career, when availing good facilities and diets did not come easy, Mirabai, who hails from Manipur, said her mother went ‘all out for her’, saying, “don’t look back, whatever comes, we are there to support you”.

“I can’t feed you properly but I will try my best to take you to the top," the young sportswoman, now the pride of the nation, remembered her mother telling her once.