The Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) cleared Mirabai’s training-cum-rehabilitation proposal at a total cost of Rs 70.8 lakh on Friday evening.
The development came a day after TOI reported about the diminutive Manipuri weightlifter spending anxious moments waiting for the authorities to clear her trip before the imposition of a likely travel ban on Indian visitors by the US owing to the unprecedented Covid-19 situation here.
With several countries already announcing a complete ban on Indian travellers, Mirabai’s coaching team had been fretting over the prospect of an impending travel ban by the US.
The world record-holder weightlifter will be accompanied by chief national coach Vijay Sharma and a physiotherapist from the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ). Mirabai will stay put in the US for the next three months before flying out directly to Tokyo for the Olympic Games.
On Saturday, Mirabai, who has been training at the NIS Patiala, will take a flight to Delhi from Chandigarh and then to the US to reach St Louis on Sunday. According to a source familiar with the development, the decision was taken based on the ever-changing situation on account of the rapid Covid-19 spread in the country where a majority of the nations have imposed a complete travel ban on travellers from India.
“The proposal from the Indian weightlifting federation (IWLF) reached the MOC today and it was cleared in the evening. This shows that the SAI’s MOC and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) division is ready to go any length to support our athletes in quest for an Olympic medal. The turnaround time is amazing. Every Olympic-bound Indian athlete will be backed in his/her training and exposure needs by the sports ministry and SAI,” the source stated.
“The prompt clearance accorded to Mirabai’s trip to the US also beautifully explains the public-private partnership model in which the SAI, IWLF and OGQ came together to support an athlete. The amount approved for Mirabai is Rs 70,81,250 and it will cover her out-of-pocket allowance, RT-PCR tests every week, expenses on sparring partners, doctor consultation and local transport, apart from boarding and lodging,” the source added.
Mirabai was in the US in November-December last year to work with Dr Horschig to treat her lower back injury. With less than three months to go for the Olympics, Mirabai wanted to train under Horschig to work on her shoulder part.
“My plan is to go to the US because my shoulder feels uncomfortable at times. My shoulder gets tight sometimes and that hinders my lift in the snatch category. Something is lacking in my snatch technique but I am working on that part. I have requested SAI’s TOPS division and the weightlifting federation for the training trip to the US. It hasn’t been confirmed because of the Covid-19 situation right now,” Mirabai had said at a virtual press conference on Thursday.
Mirabai was inducted into TOPS in November 2018 and she has received a total funding of Rs 51.51 lakhs towards out-of-pocket allowance, equipment and training support, participation in international competitions, sports science assistance and more.
Besides that, the Ministry has sanctioned Rs 21.18 crores to the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) from 2019 to 2021 towards the Annual Competition and Training Calendar (ACTC).