Battling the odds and showcasing tremendous self-belief and courage at the biggest stage, Mirabai Chanu, 26, put in an incredible shift on Saturday (July 24) to clinch the silver medal in the 49 kg weightlifting category at the Tokyo Olympics. Chanu lifted a total of 202kg (87kg and 115kg) which earned her the medal and marked an end to India’s 21-year wait for a weightlifting medal at the Olympics.
— Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (@mirabai_chanu) July 25, 2021
While everyone congratulated Mirabai Chanu on her achievement, propagandists like Rohini Singh, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and others started to look for ways to demean her victory. They found the easiest target when Birendra Prasad Baishya, President of the Indian Weightlifting Federation thanked PM Modi and other athletes for participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
Birendra Prasad in an interview thanked PM Modi by remarking, “MirabaiChanu waited 21 years to get this medal. We are grateful to the Prime Minister and the Indian athletes who took part in Tokyo Olympics”
However, Rohini Singh true to her hatred for the establishment was quick to pounce. Showing that she didn’t know how athletes and the Sports Ministry work in tandem, she tweeted, “Grateful to the prime minister for what exactly? Lifting weights on her behalf?”
Grateful to the prime minister for what exactly? Lifting weights on her behalf? https://t.co/x9ErVfWvU7
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) July 25, 2021
A journalist is supposed to do their homework but when one has made an entire career without doing it ever, it was foolish to expect it from Rohini. Any sporting success whether it be of an individual or a team takes dedicated investment, energy, planning and most importantly an entire village.
Through the Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), the two flagship government sports schemes, aimed at nurturing and polishing the Olympic dreams of the country, the platform was set for Mirabai to perform at her optimum, but unfortunately, the likes of Rohini, drenched in their hatred for PM Modi were oblivious to the existence of such schemes.
TOPS was initiated by the Modi government in 2014 and Chanu was picked as a TOPS athlete in 2018. Till date, she has received funding of Rs 51.51 lakhs towards out-of-pocket allowance, equipment and training support, participation in international competitions and sports science assistance.
Moreover, as stated by Birendra Prasad, TOPS funded the recovery and rehabilitation program of Mirabai twice to be carried out in the United States of America, costing more than Rs. 1.3 crore, according to a report by The Bridge. Over the years, the government has spent Rs 1,200 crore on athletes according to the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
When the coronavirus pandemic was wreaking havoc last year and strict rules of quarantine meant that Mirabai could not train at the Patiala training centre, the then Union Sports Minister KirenRijiju jumped in for the rescuing act and ensured that Mirabai was sent to US for the camp, so that she didn’t reach Tokyo underprepared and under-confident.
India strikes first medal at Olympic #Tokyo2020
Mirabai Chanu wins silver Medal in 49 kg Women's Weightlifting and made India proud🇮🇳
Congratulations @mirabai_chanu ! #Cheer4India pic.twitter.com/NCDqjgdSGe
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) July 24, 2021
Olympic Bronze medalist & #TOPSAthlete @MangteC praises #SAI's @kheloindia and #TOPS initiative and wishes all athletes and sports fans luck for 2021.@KirenRijiju @DGSAI @RijijuOffice @PIB_India @PMOIndia @IndiaSports @YASMinistry @mygovindia @WeAreTeamIndia @ddsportschannel pic.twitter.com/CJUITYkCji
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) January 3, 2021
“The two training stints in the USA were very crucial. Unlike India, where there were several restrictions, we were allowed to train with a free mind in the USA; allowing us to work on her strengths and weaknesses including the snatch.” national coach Vijay Sharma was quoted as saying before adding, “We are really thankful to the ministry for contacting us on their own and sending us by the last flight that left from India to the US,”
But none of it mattered as Congress motormouthRandeep Singh Surjewala used Mirabai’s stellar achievement as a means to peddle his agenda. He posted a distasteful cartoon that undermined Mirabai’s sacrifice and hard work.
महँगाई मार गई……. pic.twitter.com/czIhRJsHog
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 25, 2021
While the opposition and its puppet journalist were busy furthering their agenda, PM Modi took to Twitter to post a heartfelt message for Chanu and stated that her feat will inspire future generations.
“Could not have asked for a happier start to @Tokyo2020! India is elated by @mirabai_chanu’s stupendous performance. Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting. Her success motivates every Indian. #Cheer4India #Tokyo2020,”
Could not have asked for a happier start to @Tokyo2020! India is elated by @mirabai_chanu’s stupendous performance. Congratulations to her for winning the Silver medal in weightlifting. Her success motivates every Indian. #Cheer4India #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/B6uJtDlaJo
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 24, 2021
Meanwhile, Mirabai replied to PM Modi and thanked him for the support, further causing heartburn for Rohini and Surjewala. She tweeted, “Thank you Hon’ble Pm @narendramodi sir for all the support and encouragement.”
— Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (@mirabai_chanu) July 24, 2021
Athletes such as PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik have won medals for India at the 2016 Rio Olympics under TOPS. Similarly, India won 2 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic games. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 47 of 70 athletes supported by the TOPS programme won medals for the country. Thus it cannot be understated that government has put in the hard yards as well to ensure that athlete perform at the top level.