Happy weightlifting grounds among the Indians

The new rule prevented India from changing the weight categories of its competitors to its maximum advantage, but the country’s 15-member contingent, led by Mirabai Chanu, is still expected to return with a bagful of medals from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth tournaments, be it the CWG or the Commonwealth Championships, have been a happy hunting ground for Indian weightlifters who have been basking in the absence of traditional powers like China and North Korea. India finished as the top-performing nation in the sport in 1990, 2002 and 2018. With 125 medals, including 43 gold, they are the second most successful nation in the sport behind Australia (159), whose dominance has taken a hit in recent years. Indian weightlifters reigned supreme at the 2018 Gold Coast Games, bringing home a rich haul of nine medals, including five gold. And this year too, all 15 competitors are able to place themselves on the podium.

However, only a handful of them are expected to strike gold. To boost India’s chances of winning more gold medals in the women’s events, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) and head coach Vijay Sharma planned to field Tokyo silver medalist Chana, a sure contender for the title, in the 55kg division.

Jhilli Dalabehera and S Bindyarani Devi were slated to compete in the 49kg and 59kg categories respectively, while Poppy Hazarika would challenge in the 64kg division.

However, the entries were rejected based on a new rule which stated that only the highest placed rider in the category would qualify for the CWG and if he withdrew, the next best rider would not get a place as before. This forced Chana (49kg), Bindyarani (55kg) and Poppy (59kg) to drop out in each weight category, resulting in Jhilli missing the four-year race and no representation for India in the 64kg. All eyes will no doubt be on Chana at the Games, but while everyone else is trying to get on the podium, the former world champion, whose personal best in the women’s 49kg category is 207kg (88kg + 119kg), a whopping 39kg. more than the second best lifter in the field, earning the yellow metal is almost a certainty. All she has to do is complete two legal lifts, one each in a grab and a clean and jerk, to win her third CWG medal. She doesn’t even need to bring her A-game like her closest rival, Nigeria’s Stella Kingsley’s best to date is just 168kg (72kg + 96kg).

However, the 27-year-old player, who already has CWG gold and silver in her trophy cabinet, has set herself bigger goals. Chanu is expected to break his world record of 119kg in the clean and jerk and is also keen to break the much-anticipated 90kg mark in the jerking section. “CWG is relatively easy for me, I will fight with myself. We were planning to lift 91kg or 92kg at CWG. Hopefully it will happen,” she said in an interview to PTI last month.

Other Indian weightlifters are expected to face stiff competition from their Nigerian and Malaysian counterparts in the women’s and men’s events.

Youth Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Lalrinnung’s (67kg) gold chances have improved significantly as Pakistan’s Talha Talib, the favorite to win the 67kg title, is serving a suspension after testing positive for banned substances. Jeremy, who excelled at junior and youth level, has a lower back injury that marred his campaign at the World Championships last December and the incredibly talented 19-year-old will be eager to make his mark on the senior stage and win a medal on his debut. The other two contenders for the title are debutants Achinta Sheuli (73kg) and Ajay Singh (81kg). Both won gold at the Commonwealth Championships in December.

Junior World silver medalist Achinta, who has a personal best of 316kg (143kg + 173kg), will have to overcome Malaysia’s Erry Hidayat, who has the same effort as the Indian.

Ajay, on the other hand, will fancy his chances against his nearest rival Kyle John Ryan Christopher Park Bruce of Australia, whose personal best is six kilograms less than the Indian. Apart from Chan, the contingent also has previous CWG medalists in P Guruaj (61kg), seasoned Vikas Thakur (96kg), who will be gunning for a third medal after winning silver and bronze at the 2014 and 2018 Games, and Punam Yadav. (76 kg). It will be a tough task for 2018 bronze medalist Gururaja to win the gold as he will have to battle Gold Coast CWG 62kg champion Muhammad Aznil bin Bidin of Malaysia, who lifted eight kilograms more than the Indian at the Commonwealth Championships.

Thakur’s best shot appears to be bronze as Canada’s Boady Santavy and Cypriot Antonis Martasidis have bettered him overall. It will be the first time that India will field lifters in the plus weight categories in the form of Purnima Pandey (+87kg) and Gurdeep Singh (+109kg). The CWG is probably the easiest platform for Indian racers to win medals and the question is not if but how much the Indian contingent will bring this time.

“Our aim is to win more medals than last time. Hopefully we can bring back 4-5 golds,” said Sharma.

Lineup: Women: Mirabai Chanu (49kg), Bindyarani Devi (55kg), Popy Hazarika (59kg), Harjinder Kaur (71kg), Punam Yadav (76kg), Usha Kumari (87kg), Purnima Pandey (+ 87 kg).

Men: Sanket Sagar (55 kg), Gururaja Poojary (61 kg), Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67 kg), Achinta Sehuli (73 kg), Ajay Singh (81 kg), Vikas Thakur (96 kg), Lovepreet Singh (109 kg) , Gurdeep Singh (+ 109 kg) .

(Disclaimer: This story is automatically generated from a syndicated feed; only the image and headline may have been repurposed by www.republicworld.com)

Ferdinand Medina

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