NEW DELHI: India’s hopes of Asian Games weightlifting gold were dealt a huge blow Wednesday after 48kg world champion Mirabai Chanu pulled out injured.
The reigning world and Commonwealth Games champion withdrew from this month’s Asiad in Indonesia after failing to recover from a lower back injury.
“It is a huge setback for us, she was a top gold medal contender,” the secretary of India’s Weightlifting Federation Sahdev Yadav told AFP.
Yadav said Chanu did not want to take any chances with her injury as she prepares for the World Championships in Turkmenistan in November which will mark the start of the Olympic qualifying period for Tokyo 2020.
Chanu, 23, won silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 in the 48kg class, won the world championship in 2017 before securing Commonwealth gold on the Gold Coast earlier this year.
She qualified for the Rio Olympics but failed to finish after recording no clean lifts in three clean and jerk attempts.
It leaves India with a squad of four lifters after sending six to the Asian Games in Incheon four years where they failed to win a medal.
Chanu finished ninth in the 48kg division on that occasion but this year had been the hot favourite to take gold.
India is sending more than 540 athletes to the Asian Games — the second largest multisports event after the Olympics — which begin on August 18 and will be hosted in Jakarta and Palembang.