Going into her first Commonwealth Games, Bindyarani Devi Sorokhaibam had been hailed by many as ‘Mirabai 2.0’. One can see why. They both share the same sport, same state, same city, and similar career trajectories i.e. up, and even started their journeys at the SAI North Eastern Regional Centre in Imphal. And on Saturday, they both won a medal for India at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Lifting a total of 202kg in the women’s 55kg (sports record of 86kg in snatch, 116kg in clean and jerk), the 23-year-old exuded calmness and confidence on her way to wearing silver, lifting the weight literally and figuratively from her shoulders. Exhibited. Weightlifting Finals. His personal best total and gold winner is only one less than Adijat Adenike Olarinoy of Nigeria.
Before Bindyarani’s first snatch lift, the final had seen 79kg being lifted only once. The Indian arrived at the venue and lifted 81kg in her first attempt. That was followed by a quick and explosive lift of 84kgs in her second, establishing a Commonwealth Games snatch record, even if it lasted for a few seconds. The 23-year-old finished the round with two rulings in her favour for a 86kg lift.
The biggest takeaway for Bindyarani from the final came in the Clean & Jerk round when she lifted 116kg in her final attempt, a good five kg more than the second best. However, her deficit of six kg to Nigeria’s Olarinoye in snatch meant that the Indian finished second in the overall tally. A big moment in her story. Surely not the last and surely not the first.
National coach Vijay Sharma had, in a way, predicted this outcome. Ahead of the Games, he had pointed out Bindyarani’s shortcomings in the snatch, especially when she went head-to-head with the Nigerian.
“She is a bright talent and her gold medal at the World Championships shows that. Ahead of CWG, we tried to work on her weakness in the snatch,” Sharma had said. “We tried to make up for it as much as we can… but catching up with the Nigerian lifter will be tough.”
The podium finish at the CWG is in continuation of the massive strides the lifter has taken in the last couple of years.
Seven months ago, in Mirabai Chanu’s absence, she won a gold for India in the 55kg clean and jerk and a silver at the 2021 Commonwealth Senior Championships, which was held simultaneously with the IWF World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
She finished in the clean and jerk with a best of 114kg and a total of 198kg, both national records in the women’s 55kg category, but lost the gold medal to Olarinoy.
After that incident, Bindyarani spoke about the impact it had on the gold medalist Mirabai on Saturday. He helped her with technique and training, Mirabai said and even bought her own lifting shoes because she couldn’t afford to buy them.
It took her only six months to improve on both her records as she recorded a 115kg Clean & Jerk lift and an aggregate of 199kg as she won the 55kg title in the Khelo India National-ranking women’s weightlifting championships in Himachal Pradesh.
It should be noted that the Women’s 55kg is a non-Olympic category. For Bindyarani, this was as big and lucrative an outing as any. She, however, rued the fact that she could not finish on top of the podium.
“I am very happy to get a silver medal in my first Commonwealth Games,” ANI quoted him as saying. “Today was the best performance of my life… I lost the gold. When I was on the podium, I was not in the center, I will do better next time.