Any discussion on the prospects of Indian Men weightlifter will be incomplete without more than a mention of India’s most experienced and arguably India’s best weightlifter since Katulu Ravi Kumar- Sathish Sivalingam.
Participating in the 77kg category, this soft spoken athlete hailing from India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, (generally a hotbed for weightlifting along with Andhra Pradesh) is the defending champion having lifted 328 kg.
At Glasgow, Sathish virtually sealed the Gold medal with his monster snatch of 149kg, incidentally, a Commonwealth record.
Post Glasgow he set a national record of 339 kg at the nationals prior to Rio followed by a 11th place finish at the Olympics.
Post Rio, Sathish seems to have gone off the boil a little bit thanks to a couple of consecutive injuries. Last year’s Commonwealth Weightlifting championships saw him back at close to his best, thrashing out 328kg. A repeat of this performance should earn him the yellow metal at Gold Coast, but the Clean and Jerk which is his weaker lift needs some more attention.
Ranked comfortably on top amongst Commonwealth athletes, the Indian may need to keep an eye on the experienced Englishman Jack Oliver and the Lankan Vidanage and a couple of lifters from the Pacific Islands. With these athletes lifting in the 300-305 range on good days, India just needs a fit Sathish on D-day.
The tournament for youngsters
The ebullient Vikas Thakur, Silver medallist from Glasgow, has moved a weight category up at 94 kg.
With a new training routine and an increase in body weight Vikas finally broke the 330-340 kg barrier at the 2017 worlds, smashing national records in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk, aggregating 351 kg.
But the burly Indian will need to be at his best, with tough competition from Samoan, Pakistani and Papua New Guinea lifters. The top 5 lifters are a couple of kilos off each other. Mouth watering contest in prospect.
Very much like Vikas Thakur, young Gurdeep Singh is achieving personal bests and breaking them in the very next competition.
Gurdeep Singh moved 371 kg of iron and the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships and best that by a whopping 17kg at the biggest stage of them all; the Anaheim World Championships.
A 390 kg total lift few months later at the Indian nationals, just proved that this big lifter from Punjab will have a lot to offer in the +105 category not only at Gold Coast but also at the Asian Games later in August. A medal prospect for India at +105 kg category is a rarity, but this young man from Punjab might just rewrite the record books. Standing in his way will be some burly weightlifters from Pakistan, Samoa, New Zealand.
If Mirabai Chanu is an outright favorite at Womens 48kg, then the 20 year old from Andhra Pradesh, Rahul Venkata Ragala is just that in Mens 85 kg.
His monster lifts of 351 kg at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, left the second placed Samoan Don Epologe a distant second at 332 kg. Unless Rahul has an off day or the experienced Kiwi, Richard Patterson can conjure some magic, hard not to see the Gold medal around the Indian’s neck. The rest will be mere spectators.
The 18 year old Deepak Lather represents India at 69kg, with a best lift of 295 kg at last year’s Commonwealth Champs. Ranked in the top 5 among Commonwealth athletes, Lather would need to break some personal bests and lift upward of 305 kg to land on the podium. Interestingly, moving up a weight category from 62 kg to 69 kg has beefed up his lifting from 267 to 295 kg in over a year and a half. Kudos to the Indian coach and Lather himself.
Joining the long list of young lifters, who have been busy breaking personal bests and in some cases National records, is Pardeep Singh, India’s hope in the 105kg.
His 349 kg lift at the Anaheim Worlds last year, was his personal best on the back of his earlier personal best of 342 kg at the Commonwealth Championships. The Samoan Sanele Mao is breathing down his neck, but a podium finish is not beyond Pardeep Singh.
This young Indian Mens weightlifting team looks in fine fettle and barring the extraordinary should comfortably garner medals in every weight class.