Mirabai Chanu-1659208030060
Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu celebrates with the gold in the women's 49kg at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham on Saturday. Image Credit: ANI

Birmingham: Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu won India’s first gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the women’s 49-kg weightlifting event in Birmingham on Saturday.

Mirabai, who was the outright favourite to win her division, lived up to the billing with a total lift of 201kg (snatch — 88kg; clean and jerk — 113kg). With her mark, she shattered the Commonwealth Games record in the category.

The previous Games record, in fact, was held by Chanu herself courtesy a 191kg lift, which brought her the 48kg gold medal at Gold Coast 2018. It was Chanu’s third successive medal at the Commonwealth Games. She finished with silver at Glasgow 2014 and won gold at Gold Coast 2018.

Two more medals for India

This is India’s third medal in Birmingham after Sanket Sargar’s silver and Gururaja Poojary’s bronze in the men’s 55kg and 61kg respectively.

Roilya Ranaivosoa won the silver medal with 172kg (76kg + 96kg) while Canada’s Hannah Kaminski claimed the bronze with 171kg (74kg+ 97kg).

The Indian badminton team continued its impressive run in the mixed team competition, defeating Sri Lanka 5-0 in a preliminary round Group A match and remain on course for a place in the quarter-finals.

The Indian coaches rotated the players and gave rest to Kidambi Srikanth and P.V. Sindhu after their comfortable wins against Pakistan. But the result was the same — another romp for the defending champions. The mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa set the ball rolling by outplaying Sri Lanka’s Sachin Dias and Thilini Hendahewa 21-14, 21-8. The World Championship bronze medallist Lakshya Sen took the court next and demolished Nikula Karunaratne 2-0, winning 21-18, 21-5 to make it 2-0 for India.

Aakarshi Kashyap won 21-3, 21-9 in the women’s singles against Sri Lanka’s Vidara Suhasni Vidanage to make it 3-0 and give India an unbeatable lead. The makeshift men’s doubles combine of B Sumeeth Reddy and Chirag Shetty did not break a sweat in beating Dumindu Abeywickrama and Sachin Dias 21-10, 21-13 in double quick time to make it 4-0. The women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Pullela Gayatri Gopichand sealed the 5-0 romp for the top seeds and favourites to retain their gold medal.

INDIA BADMINTON-1659208027711
India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa celebrate a point during their mixed doubles win over Sri Lanka. Image Credit: ANI

It was a good outing for Team India ahead of the tougher encounters in the knockout rounds, as the coaches worked out various combinations and tested the players.

India will round off their preliminary round campaign with their final Group A match against Australia later in the evening. With another victory, India will seal the top spot in Group A and make it to the quarter-finals.

Qualification missed

Meanwhile, in other events on Saturday, Indian cyclist Meenakshi failed to make it to the medal rounds in the women’s 3,000-metre Individual Pursuit. Meenakshi finished 15th and last with a timing of 3:49.598 and an average speed of 47.039kms in a field from which the fastest two riders qualified for the gold medal race while the third and fourth fastest contested for bronze.

In the men’s marathon, India’s Nitendra Singh Rawat came up with a below-par performance and finished 12th overall with a timing of 2:19.22.

Rawat has a personal best of 2:16.05 but on Saturday, he failed to come anywhere close to that effort as he finished eight minutes and 27 behind gold medallist Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat.

In squash, India’s Ramit Tandon gave Jamaica’s Christopher Binnie a walkover in their Men’s Singles, Round of 32 match at the University Hockey and Squash Centre. The reason for Tandon’s pull-out was not known. It was also not clear whether he will participate in the Men’s Doubles competition.