Medal rush for lifters likely to continue at Commonwealth Games 2022

Express News Service

Commonwealth Games has been a happy hunting ground for Indian weightlifters as the discipline has fetched second-most medals for the country so far in the quadrennial event after shooting.

Indian weightlifters have won 125 medals including 43 gold, 48 silver and 34 bronze so far and are only behind Australia (159) in the list of most successful nations.

India were ranked first in weightlifting in the previous edition in 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia with the lifters winning nine medals including five gold, two silver and as many bronze.

A lot will be expected from them this time as well with Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu leading the charge. The 15-member team comprises four medallists including Mirabai from the 2018 edition.

The other three medallists are Vikas Thakur, Guru Raja and Punam Yadav. Besides them, youngsters like 2018 Youth Olympic champion Jeremy Lalrinnunga and Achinta Sheuli are also in the squad to bolster India’s chances.

“We will try to better our previous best. All 15 lifters have a chance to finish on the podium,” head coach Vijay Sharma had said before leaving for Birmingham for a one-month training camp ahead of the CWG last month.

In absence of powerhouses like China and North Korea, they are expected to win a bagful of medals in Birmingham.

The only thing to look out for is whether they will be able to increase their gold medal count from the previous edition where five of their lifters, including three women, finished on top of the podium.

Rule tweak

Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) wanted to field Mirabai in 55kg in its bid to increase the country’s chances of winning more medals in the women’s section.

However, a new rule prevented them from doing so. The IWLF wanted Jhilli Dalabehera and S Bindyarani Devi to compete in the 49kg and 59kg, respectively, while Poppy Hazarika was supposed to compete in 64kg.

The entries were rejected as the new rule stated only the top-ranked lifter in a category will qualify for the CWG and if he/she withdraws, the next best lifter will not get the berth, as was the case before.

As a result, Mirabai (49kg), Bindyarani (55kg) and Poppy (59kg) dropped back a weight class each which resulted in Jhilli missing out on the event and no Indian representation in 64kg.

Squad
 

Men: Sanket Sargar (55kg), Guru Raja (61kg), Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg), Achinta Sheuli (73kg), Ajay Singh (81kg), Vikas Thakur (96kg), Lovepreet Singh (109kg), Gurdeep Singh (+109kg).

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

Key medal contenders

Mirabai: The former world champion is a sure shot to stand at the top of the podium as her personal best in her weight category is 207kg (88kg snatch and 119kg clean & jerk), a whopping 39kg more than the second-best lifter, Nigeria’s Stella Kingsley, in the field. Kingley’s best effort to date is 168kg (72kg 96kg).

Jeremy: In the absence of Pakistan’s Talha Talib, who failed a dope test and would miss the event, the Mizo lifter is favourite to win the title. He might be coming off a lower back injury that prevented him from giving his best last year but the lifter will be raring to finish on the podium on his CWG debut.

Achinta: The 2021 Junior World Championships silver medallist has a personal best of 316kg (143kg & 173kg) that helped him clinch gold at the 2021 Commonwealth Championship. His main competitor will be Malaysia’s Erry Hidayat, who also has the same personal best.

Vikas: Having won a silver and a bronze in the 2014 and 2018 editions, respectively, the Himachal lifter will be vying for his third medal at the event. However, he has to overcome tough competition from Canadian Boady Santavy and Cypriot lifter Antonis Martasidis to change the colour of his medal.

Intro: Mirabai Chanu & Co expected to put up a strong show in quadrennial event

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