Mother in tears as Mirabai sports 'good luck' earrings
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, July 24 2021: A historic silver medal and a radiant smile were not the only eye-catching things about Mirabai Chanu on Saturday in Tokyo, her gold earrings shaped like Olympic rings were as striking, a gift from her mother who sold her own jewellery for them five years ago.

The hope was that the earrings would bring her "good luck" .

It didn't happen in the Rio 2016 Games but Chanu made the little sacrifice count in Tokyo this morning with a silver medal and Saikhom Ongbi Tombi Leima has struggled to stop her tears from flowing ever since.

"I saw the earrings on TV, I gave them to her in 2016 before the (Rio) Olympics.

I have made it for her from the gold pieces and savings I have so that it brings luck and success," Leima told PTI from her home in Manipur where a considerable number of relatives, friends and well-wishers gathered to watch Chanu script history in Tokyo.

"I was in tears seeing it and also during the moment she won the medal.

Her father (Saikhom Kriti Meitei) was also in tears.

Tears of joy.

All her hard work has led to the success" .

Mirabai's parents, Kriti and Tombi expressed their elation over their daughter's win.

"It is matter of pride and extreme joy to see my daughter represent the country in the Olympic Games and bag a silver medal", Kriti said, while adding that he would encourage his daughter to bag the gold medal in the next Games.

Meanwhile, Tombi said that she witnessed her daughter's performance alongside family and neighbours on the television.

She continued that she is proud of her daughter and that she (Mirabai) has brought glory and recognition to Manipur and India across the world.

On Friday, family, friends and neighbours gathered at the residence of Mirabai in Nongpok Kakching, Imphal East to watch her performance in the weightlifting competition of the Olympic Games on television.

Her performance and subsequent win of the silver medal was praised and celebrated by all present.

At the Saikhom household which is around 25km from state capital Imphal, visitors had been trickling in since Friday despite the curfew caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mirabai Chanu has six siblings, three sisters and two brothers.

"She had told us she will win gold or at least a medal.

So, everybody was waiting for it to happen.

Many of our relatives who lived far came last evening.

They stayed overnight with us," Tombi said.

"Many came this morning and the people of the locality also thronged.

So, we have brought out the television to the verandah and around 50 people were there to watch Mirabai in Tokyo.

Many sat at the front courtyard.

So, it was a kind of festival.

"A lot of journalists have also come.

This is something we have never experienced".

The gold they had wished for didn't come but the silver was enough to send a packed courtyard, glued to the TV, into frenzy as the tense little crowd broke into celebrations, unclenching their fists and clapping frantically.

It was a moment of pride and jubilation for the 40-odd family members and friends of the 26-year old lifter who remained glued in front of the television set for the entire 2-hour of the weightlifting event, at Mirabai's home.

Each time Mirabai took her turn at the stage, the crowd at Mirabai's ancestral home broke into loud cheering and claps.

The anxiety was palpable and it was a day like no other for Saikhom Kriti and Tombi Devi, the lifters' parents.

While the rest of the crowd folded their hands and silently prayed as Mirabai took her turn, Kriti clenched his fists tightly only to release them with a victory cry when his daughter successfully lifted the assigned weight, turn-after-turn.

Mother Tombi Devi, on the other hand, almost stopped breathing, only to heave a sigh of relief when Mirabai breaks into a victory smile.

Such was the excitement at the remote village of Mirabai.

Although the jubilation was low key, Mirabai's mother said her daughter's historic achievement for the entire nation cannot go uncelebrated.

"Tonight, we are going to have fish, we are mostly vegetarian but tonight will be an exception.

She opened the medal account for India winning a silver medal.

This is a proud moment for me," said Tombi Devi.

Mirabai Chanu was on video call with her family from the weightlifting arena in Tokyo before her event began and she had sought blessings from her parents.

"She (Chanu) rarely comes home (because of training) and so we have made a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other," said Chanu's cousin Aroshini.

"This morning, she had a video call with all of us and she bowed down and sought blessings from her parents.

"She said 'bless me to win a gold medal for the country' .

They gave their blessings.

It was a touching moment" .

(With inputs from agencies, Sanzu Bachaspatimayum) .

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