Chanu becomes the first athlete to win the award twice in a row after winning for the year 2021.
Born in Manipur state, in north-east of India, Chanu learned to weightlift by carrying firewood.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics she became the first Indian to win a silver medal in weightlifting and in 2022 secured gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. She won a silver medal at the World Weightlifting Championships 2022.
Joining the award ceremony through a live link Meera Bai Chanu thanked everyone who supported her. She said, “I am really excited and want to say that I will be working even harder for the forthcoming games and win more medals for India.”
The other shortlisted contenders for BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year were wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, boxer Nikhat Zareen, and badminton player PV Sindhu.
BBC Para Sportswoman of the Year, a category introduced for the first time went to Bhavina Patel. The para table tennis player won a silver medal at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, becoming the first Indian table tennis player to achieve this feat. Patel also won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Patel said: “It is indeed a gratifying feeling to win this prestigious award which is part of a wonderful initiative empowering women and sportspersons. It is also commendable to see BBC focusing on para sports and making India more inclusive.”
The former captain of the Indian women’s hockey team Pritam Siwach was conferred with the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Indian sports and inspiring generations of players. Siwach was the first woman hockey coach to be given the Dronacharya Award, which honours sports coaches in India.
Siwach said: “I want to thank BBC for selecting me for this award. This award has been conferred upon eminent sportswomen in the past three years. I was very happy to know that this year, I will be getting the award. The speciality of this award is that it is given to women. It motivates us when we get such awards.”
Boxer Nitu Ghanghas was chosen as the BBC Emerging Player of the Year. She is a two-time youth world champion and Commonwealth Games medallist. She won the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the minimumweight category.
Lovely Choubey, Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki and Nayanmoni Saikia, who won gold in lawn bowls women team event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which was India’s first-ever medal in the sport, were given the BBC Changemaker of the Year Award.
95-year-old Bhagwani Devi and 106-year-old Rambai were jointly awarded the special trophy for their achievements. Devi won a gold medal in the 100m sprint at the 2022 World Masters Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland. In the competition, which is for athletes over the age of 35, Devi also secured a bronze in shot put. Rambai clinched gold in the 100m and 200m races at the 2022 National Open Masters Athletics Championships in Vadodara.
Jonathan Munro, Deputy CEO and Director of Journalism, BBC News expressed his delight on being part of the ceremony and congratulated Mirabai Chanu for winning the BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year award for the second year in a row. He said: “I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of BBC Indian Para-Sportswoman Of The Year award that we have introduced this year.”
Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services and Director of the BBC World Service says: “All the women who’ve been nominated have contributed to sport in India in remarkable ways and I’m proud to celebrate their achievements. They demonstrate incredible talent, resilience and commitment to their sports and are a shining example to women, not just in India, but across the sporting world.”
BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year Award was launched in 2019 to celebrate sportswomen in India who have made their mark on the world stage, while highlighting challenges faced by women athletes.
The five nominees for the BBC Indian Sportswoman award were announced in February, having been chosen by a jury panel comprising of well-known sports journalists, writers and experts.