Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala has a special reason to celebrate the silver medal won for India by weightlifter Mirabai Chanu in the 49-kg category at the Tokyo Olympics.
Chanu’s coaching team includes A P Dathan, a native of Kallekulangara in Palakkad. It is Dathan, an additional coach, who takes care of Chanu’s diet as she has to maintain her weight at 49 kg. Formerly with the Indian Air Force (IAF), Dathan has been part of Chanu's coaching team for the last five years.
Chanu earned glory at Tokyo overcoming an injury, which had deprived her of a medal at the Rio Olympics of 2016. The injury had also forced the weightlifter to travel to the United States for treatment from the training camp at Patiala. Later, she arrived in Tokyo from the US.
Earlier, Chanu had lifted 119 kg at the Asian Championship held in Uzbekistan, which was a world record.
“A special schedule has been fixed for Chanu’s food as well as training from morning to night,” says Dathan.
For breakfast, the champion has an egg, two slices of bread and five varieties of fruits, including avocado. There is fish for lunch and salmon, tuna and pork belly are brought from Norway for the meal. “Mira eats a mere 100-150 grams of these items,” informs Dathan.
“The coaches ensure that Mira doesn’t gain more weight than her 49 kg. She too gives much care to this aspect,” says Dathan.
Regarding training sessions, he explains: “There are two sessions on Mondays, one on Tuesdays, two on Wednesdays, one on Thursdays and two on Fridays.”
Chanu spends six to eight hours in the gym. “The morning session starts at 6.30 am and lasts 90 minutes. The training continues from 10 am to 1 pm. In the evening, the timing is 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm,” says Dathan.
From IAF team to coaching
Dathan started his career in the IAF in 1995 and soon became part of the service’s weightlifting team. He was in the IAF team till 2008 and passed the coaching diploma course in 2010. Subsequently, he was appointed as the coach of the Western Air Command.
Dathan was in the camp of the national junior team in 2014, followed by the senior team in 2015. It was Mirabai’s coach Vijay Sharma who invited Dathan to be her additional coach.
After his retirement from the IAF in February this year, Dathan was appointed as a coach attached to the Weightlifting Federation of India. Presently at the coaching camp in Patiala, Dathan received a call from Chanu from Japan after her victory. “I am proud of Mirabai,” says the coach.
Dathan’s wife Sandhya works at a Cooperative Bank in Pazhayannur in Thrissur and the couple has two children, Sooraj and Sandra, both students.