What Makes Mirabai Chanu’s Silver Special? Here’s The List Of India’s Olympic Medals

A country of 1.35 billion erupted in joy on Saturday afternoon as news of Mirabai Chanu bagging a silver medal in women’s 49kg weightlifting event at the Tokyo Olympics trickled in.

Not only had the 26-year-old from Manipuri erased bitter memories of her failure in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics five years ago, she had become the first weightlifter from the north-east to clinch an Olympic medal.

She had also managed to eclipse her idol and one of India’s female weightlifting greats Kunjarani Devi, who did compete in the Olympics (Athens 2004) but missed out on a podium finish.

Born in a village 200 km from capital city Imphal, Mirabai took a liking to weightlifting at the age of 10, after seeing fellow-Manipuri Kunjarani take part in the 2004 Olympics. It took some effort to convince her parents about weightlifting. But once she did that, and then acquired her first weights after 2007, Mirabai took one step after another swiftly.

If rewriting idol Kunjarani’s national record in 2016 was a memorable moment in Mirabai’s life, the ‘did not finish’ tag at the Olympics that same year broke her heart — but not her spirit. She got more determined, worked harder and never lost belief in herself, culminating in second-place finish at Tokyo.

Mirabai Chanu Tokyo Olympics silver
Picture courtesy Twitter

In doing so, Mirabai joined an elite list of just 16 Indian sportspersons to have won Olympic medals in individual events. In a country which has struggled to shine in Olympic sports despite its massive population, Mirabai is the sixth female athlete, and only second female weightlifter (see List below), to achieve a podium finish in the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

Of the nine gold medals India have garnered in Olympics since 1900, as many as eight have come in men’s hockey – the only individual exception being shooter Abhinav Bindra.

Just two Indians have won multiple Olympic medals in individual events – athlete Norman Pritchard in pre-Independence era and wrestler Sushil Kumar. Following is the complete list of medals:



Men’s hockey team – 8 gold medals, 1 silver, 2 bronze

Gold — 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, 1932 Los Angeles, 1936 Berlin, 1948 London, 1952 Helsinki, 1956 Melbourne, 1964 Tokyo, 1980 Moscow

Silver – 1960 Rome Olympics

Bronze – 1968 Mexico City Olympics, 1972 Munich


Norman Pritchard – Silver, Athletics (men’s 200m), 1900 Paris Olympics

Norman Pritchard – Silver, Athletics (men’s 200m hurdles), 1900 Paris Olympics

KD Jadhav – Bronze, Wrestling (men’s bantamweight), 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Leander Paes – Bronze, Tennis (men’s singles), 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Karnam Malleswari – Bronze, Weightlifting (women’s 54kg), 2000 Sydney Olympics

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – Silver, Shooting (men’s double trap), 2004 Athens Olympics

Abhinav Bindra – Gold, Shooting (men’s 10m air rifle), 2008 Beijing Olympics

Sushil Kumar – Bronze, Wrestling (men’s 66kg), 2008 Beijing Olympics

Vijender Kumar – Bronze, Boxing (men’s middleweight), 2008 Beijing Olympics

Vijay Kumar – Silver, Shooting (men’s 25m rapid pistol), 2012 London Olympics

Sushil Kumar – Silver, Wrestling (men’s 66kg), 2012 London Olympics

Yogeshwar Dutt – Bronze, Wrestling (men’s 60kg), 2012 London Olympics

Mary Kom – Bronze, Boxing (women’s flyweight), 2012 London Olympics

Saina Nehwal – Bronze, Badminton (women’s singles), 2012 London Olympics

Gagan Narang – Bronze, Shooting (men’s 10m air rifle), 2012 London Olympics

PV Sindhu – Silver, Badminton (women’s singles), 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Sakshi Malik – Bronze, Wrestling (women’s 58kg), 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Mirabai Chanu – Silver, Weightlifting (women’s 48kg), 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021).

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