CWG 2022: Inspired by Mirabai, Bindiyarani’s journey from taekwondo to weightlifting bears fruit

Bindiya set the Games record in the clean and jerk segment by lifting 116kgs after lifting 86 kg in snatch for a total of 202kg

Bindiyaravi Devi Commonwealth Games 2022
Bindiyarani Devi poses with her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022. Photo: Twitter/Team India

Birmingham: Carrying a tag like ‘Mirabai 2.0’ is not easy, considering the achievements of a young lady who is growing into a legend even as her career grows, but Bindiyarani Devi Sorokhaibam is ready to take it on.

Bindiyarani, who says she is only starting on her journey in weightlifting, admits that she is inspired by her fellow Manipuri.

A late-comer to weightlifting, she has taken to it very well. She revealed, “From 2008 to 2012 I was doing taekwondo. Then I switched to weightlifting. I had an issue with my height and people at SAI centre said my height was ideal for weightlifting. From 2013 onwards I am doing weightlifting.”

Also read: Short in height, tall in stature Mirabai stays focussed in battle with herself


Here in Birmingham, competing late in the evening on Saturday (July 30) after India had won one gold, one silver and one bronze in the three previous categories, Bindiyarani was coming in with fans and supporters expecting a lot, including a medal, from her. She delivered.

However, she did have a regret. “I’m very happy to get a silver in my first CWG,” she said. Then quickly added, “Today was my life’s best performance… (but I feel) gold slipped out of my hand. When I was at the podium, I wasn’t at the centre, I will do better next time.”

Her total of 202kg was just one kilo off the gold. She said, “If I had lifted 114kgs in the second attempt (it was called No-lift), I would have gone for more in the third attempt. It was bit of a shock (the No-lift) but I am thankful that I got a silver at least.” She and her coaches did not want to risk the silver by going for 118kg in C&J which would have fetched her gold, but instead chose 116kg after failing once at 114kg. That gave her silver.

Nigeria’s Adijat Adenike Olarinoye took gold with 92kg snatch and 111 in C&J, as compared to Bindiya’s 86kg snatch and 116kg C&J.

Also read: Mirabai clinches India’s 1st gold, sets records

Back in her early years in weightlifting, which was not too far back, Bindiya would look at Mirabai, who she refers to as ‘Mira di’, in awe and as a major inspiration. She still stays an inspiration, but now Bindiyarani shares a lot with her – camps and sits with her at dinner table and so on.

Mirabai has lived up to the expectations of being a senior athlete, though the difference in ages between them is a mere four years. Mirabai has been generous with suggestions, technical advice and even equipment, too, like expensive shoes suited for the sport.

A medallist at the 2016 Commonwealth Junior championships and then 2019 Commonwealth Championships in Samoa, she added a second place at the 2021 Commonwealth Championships which were held concurrently held with 2021 World Championships in Tashkent. Since the entries for the Commonwealth Championships were limited, categories with five or less entries were not awarded medals beyond the winner. So, Olarinoye Adijat of Nigeria, who won gold last night in Birmingham, got gold but Bindiya with a second place got only an applause. Her big achievement in Tashkent was finishing ahead of the higher ranked Korean Ham Eun-ji, the winner of the Tokyo Olympic Test event in 55kgs.

But the event also led her and coaches to focus on Clean&Jerk, which seemed to a be a bit of weakness for her, just as it was once for Mirabai.

So, the silver in Birmingham meant a lot to the 23-year-old Bindiyarani. She became the fourth Indian weightlifter to win a medal on the second day of the competition in Birmingham. Bindiya also set the Games record in the clean and jerk segment by lifting 116kgs after lifting 86 kg in snatch for a total of 202kg.

In Birmingham, Bindiyarani overcame a 6-kilo deficit from snatch, as she achieved 116kg in Clean&Jerk, compared to Olarinoye Adijat’s 111kg. It reduced the deficit from six to one, but that was the difference between gold and silver.

Also read: Sargar’s golden hopes hit by injury; Gururaja wins bronze

Last night after her silver medal, she again re-iterated that Mirabai has been a big influence and a big factor in her success. “I want to do well like Mira di,” she says.

On what awaits her when she reaches home, she laughed and said, “They (the family and friends) have been preparing. They did not have Sony TEN in the house so my brother recharged (Cable TV). He and my friends said we will do a reception after you come back with a medal.”

Now the reception is on!

And, maybe a pizza, too, which like Mirabai, is also a favourite with Bindiya. With a big laugh, she added, Bindiya confessed, “We had to take care to keep our weight in check. but now for at least today I can have it.”

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