India’s first individual female Olympic medallist Karnam Malleswari has high expectations from weightlifter Mirbai Chanu and predicts she will bring home a medal from the Tokyo Games this year.

“I am expecting Mirabai Chanu to perform very well at the Olympics this year. She learned a lot at the last Olympics, and I am sure she will win a medal this year,” Malleswari said.

Malleswari created history at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when she won the bronze in weightlifting (69kg category). Apart from that historic bronze, she has won two World Championships gold medals.

Mirabai Chanu won the gold medal at the 2017 World Championships and at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Malleswari feels that exposure for junior Indian weightlifters at the international level has helped in their progress.

“Now there are a lot of competitions for the weightlifters in India,”the 44-year-old observed. “There are youth, junior and senior weightlifting competitions. When we were in the junior category, we didn’t go for any international tournaments. Now athletes have a chance to participate at the Youth Olympics as well. Only in the last ten years, junior athletes from India have started to go for international tournaments. So, this exposure has helped Indian weightlifters grow in India.”

After a successful Khelo India Youth Games in January, the Indian government will next organise the Khelo India University Games in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1, 2020.

Malleswari is of the opinion that the more the tournaments that Indian athletes participate in, the better will be their performances. “The more tournaments the athletes get to participate, the better it is for them. When we were training, we used to work hard the entire year and get to take part in just one national championship and one international championship. In case we couldn’t do well in those one or two competitions then all our hard work was of no use. So the Khelo India University Games will definitely help athletes grow in the country,” said Malleswari.