'I learnt a lot from that day -- my training and technique was changed, we put in a lot of effort after that.'
An Olympic medal finally around her neck, star Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu on Saturday said she can finally take a break at home without worrying about training after managing just five trips to her place in Manipur in the last five years.
"I have just been home for five days in the past five years. Now I will go with this medal," said Chanu, whose family is based in Nongpok Kakching village about 20 kilometres from Imphal.
"I will now go home and eat food made by my mother," she added.
Chanu revealed that after the Rio Games debacle she changed her training and technique completely so that she could redeem herself in Tokyo.
Competing in her second Olympics, Chanu claimed the silver medal in the 49kg category with a total of 202kg (87kg+115kg). It was India's second Olympic medal in the sport after Karnam Malleswari's bronze that came 21 years ago at the Sydney Games.
"My dream of winning an Olympic medal has been fulfilled today. I tried a lot in Rio, put in a lot of effort but it was not my day then. I thought that day only that I will prove myself in Tokyo," Chanu said during a virtual press conference organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Considered a strong medal contender five years ago in Rio as well, Chanu buckled under pressure in the women's 48kg event and failed to log a legitimate lift.
"I learnt a lot from that day -- my training and technique was changed, we put in a lot of effort after that.
"I was very sad after Rio, there was a lot of pressure on me and I got nervous, I couldn't understand anything for days but then coach sir and the federation counselled me, told me that I have a lot of potential," she added.
Head coach Vijay Sharma revealed he was also under a lot of pressure after the disappointing outing in Rio.
"There was a lot of pressure on me after the Rio failure, we failed in a very important competition and we were expected to win then also," Sharma said.
Determined to prove herself in the Tokyo Games, Chanu and Sharma changed the Manipuri's training, employing a more stringent regimen.
"After that we changed the training pattern and technique a lot. The result of which we saw in the 2017 in world championship, then we took the gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. We won a medal in the 2019 World Championship. We have been growing and improving regularly.
"The lesson we learnt was that we need a lot of determination and discipline. I worked with that and Mira partnered me.
"She hasn't done anything but eat, sleep and train in the last five years. It took us 2.5 years instead of 1.5 for the Olympic qualification because of coronavirus. Overall the result of the journey is that we are sitting here today with the medal."
The Manipuri's sole focus for the past five years was on winning a medal at the Olympics and that required several sacrifices including staying away from her family.
The efforts paid off as Chanu went on to win the World Championship in 2017 following it with a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
At the 2019 Asian championship she picked up a bronze in clean and jerk where medals are awarded separately for snatch, clean and jerk, and total lift.
Ahead of the Tokyo Games, the Khel Ratna awardee had created a world record in clean and jerk at the 2020 Asian championship earlier this year.
hanu hoped her exploits in the international arena and the Olympics win can inspire more girls to take up the sport specially weightlifting.
"There will be change, there are few girls in weightlifting right now but I hope many will be inspired by me and will feel they can also achieve something in the sport."