In Tokyo, Mirabai won the silver, India’s first in the event, behind China’s Hou Zhihui in 49kg category. She almost matched her rival in the clean and jerk category – she lifted 115 while the Chinese had 116. But she was let down in the snatch where she lifted 87 kg and Hou had a lift of 94 kg – a big difference of 7 kg.
To bridge the gap, Chanu’s coach has come up with an plan. He wants to make a change to Mirabai’s snatch technique.
“She has (Hou) an extraordinary snatch. If we have to beat her, we have to make some changes in Mira’s technique,” Sharma told TOI from Patiala, Where he has already started training Mirabai.
“Her clean and jerk is strong. Snatch is a technique event. We have the strength, but the Chinese girl’s technique is better in snatch. That’s why she could lift more in Tokyo. We have to focus on the technique now.”
It’s not that Mirabai’s snatch technique is bad or her lifts are poor. It’s just that the Chinese dominance in these lifts makes her efforts pale in comparison.
As a rookie seven years back in Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Mirabai, while competing in 48kg category, had a snatch of 75kg and 95kg in clean and jerk. Now she has a best of 88 kg in snatch, an improvement of 13 kg, and 119 kg in clean and jerk.
“She had improved in snatch. But the problem is that her competitor’s snatch is very good. I hope we can take it to 92 kg if everything goes according to plan,” Sharma said.
When asked how big a risk it is for a successful athlete to change her technique while at the peak, the Dronacharya awardee coach admitted that it was indeed a difficult move, but a safe one.
“At this stage, it’s difficult for an Olympic medallist to change the technique. But if we don’t do it, we will stay at the position where we are now. We are doing this because we feel there’s no risk involved. This is an experiment, but if we don’t try we won’t improve. We have to do this to stay on top.”
Sharma said he has discussed the plan with Mirabai.
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“We have been discussing this since the Olympics. I discussed this with Mira and have decided to start with small points, step by step. We will increase the load by 2 to 3 kilos. We won’t overhaul the technique completely. We will see how things progress.”
The coach said Mirabai will start with light workload for a few days before subsequently turning her focus to the change in technique.
“It has been a month since the Olympics and there are a lot of international competitions coming up. We will make her ready by doing light exercise and fitness training. After that we can shift gears,” he said.