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Going into the Commonwealth Games, India's lifters were the brightest ray of hope and they have not disappointed so far. After Gururaja won silver in the men's 56kg category on the opening day, his achievement was followed by the twin successes of the two women from Manipur ' Mirabai Chanu and Sanjita Chanu ' both of whom won gold, in the 48 kg and 53 kg categories respectively. In the men's 69 kg event, 18-year-old debutant Deepak Lather claimed bronze, taking India's medals tally in weightlifting to four in the tournament yesterday.Also Read: Manipur Victorious - A state that got it right Today, Sathish added on to that euphoria with a stunning performance. A 317 kg total lift and he decisively won the Gold 5 kilos ahead of Jack Oliver. Sathish was the defending champion in the category, having claimed the gold medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games where he set a new CWG snatch record of 149 kg. This makes it back to back Golds for the champion lifter. https://twitter.com/TheBridge_IN/status/982442815903809538
Of humble beginnings and hallowed traditionsAfter winning gold in CWG 2014, an elated Sathish had told The Hindu, 'I feel so good, having achieved the dream I've had for the past four years. In fact, it was the dream of my family too and now I am delighted for them as well.The gold medal means everything to me. My father was a national-level lifter and it was he who always drove me to the gymnasium.' Sathish Sivalingam celebrates after winning the Men's Weightlifting 77 kg category at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Sathish's father Sivalingam was, in fact, an ex-servicemen who had himself won gold at the national level. He ultimately quit the army and took up the job of a security guard at the Vellore Institute of Technology to make ends meet. His father, who has gone to great lengths to see Sathish live his dream, has been candid about the struggles they underwent to provide him with basic necessities, including the diet he requires. 'Two omelettes with four idlis in the morning, 250 grams of chicken with rice and 1/2 litre of milk in the night and moderate quantity of mutton once a week. This is his normal diet. Imagine, providing quarter kilo of chicken every day was a bit difficult...Now there is recognition and we are happy,' N Sivalingam, had told PTI. Sathish comes from the nondescript village of Sathuvachari in Vellore which has traditionally made headlines only because of its weightlifters. If it was Sathish who made the village proud with his CWG gold in 2014, it was Tamil Selvan who made the headlines more than three decades earlier when he won the silver medal in the Edmonton CWG in 1978. Selvan went on to inspire an entire generation that made it to the international level,such as G. Devan (Arjuna Awardee) and B. Thangamni (silver medallist at the 1981 Commonwealth Championship, Brisbane). He would also go on to coach Sathishfrom 2010 to 2012. Sathish was naturally one of India's brightest medal hopes going into Rio Olympics in 2016. He seemed to be in great form, topping the selection trials, lifting a total of 336kg, comprising 151kg in snatch and 185kg in clean and jerk. But the road to Rio was hardly smooth for India's star lifter on whom the nation was pinning all hopes to bring home a medal. Things did not work for Sathish in Rio during the 2016 Olympic Games.
Return from injuryAhead of the Rio Olympics, when things seemed to be going well, Sathish suffered a dreadful slipped disc injury in the 2015 World Championships that threatened to bring about a premature end to his promising career. Battling injury and consumed by self-doubt, it took a huge effort from his coaches to get Sathish back on track. 'Winning gold in Glasgow was a huge high for me. From thereon, my next target was to win a medal at the Rio Olympics. However, I suffered a slipped disc in the spine during the World Championships last year, which almost put paid to my hopes but my coaches-- Sandeep Kumar and Vijay Sharma --worked doubly hard to get me ready,' he had told TOI. However, returning from a lower back injury of that magnitude was always going to take its toll and Sathish was left disappointed as a podium finish eluded him in Rio. He lifted 148kg in snatch and 181kg in clean and jerk for a total of 329kg to finish fourth in the competition in his group and 11th overall. The road to recovery has been steep and fraught with obstacles. But Sathish showed that he is back on track by lifting 320kg at the Commonwealth Senior Weightlifting Championships in Gold Coast, Australia last year. The destination remained the same and Sathish, a new lifter back from injury, made full use of this opportunity. The comeback which he had long awaited, was grasped even as Englishman Oliver put up a stunning challenge. The Snatch part of the competition was complete proof of how both of them wanted the Gold. The target was same and each indulged in a brilliant tactical battle to outwit the other. Oliver was only half successful as he failed his final Snatch attempt and could not garner a lead of over a kilo over the Indian going into Clean and Jerk. Also Read: Indian weightlifters are bringing medals, but at what cost? "I had no hopes of winning a medal after I injured my thighs during the National Championships while attempting 194kg in clean and jerk. It's a quadriceps problem, even now I am competing at less than ideal fitness but I am glad that was enough to get me a gold," Sathish was quoted as saying by The Indian Express after his medal ceremony. "I had not trained that hard and my body was not at its best, and so how could I hope for a medal," he added. It is worth remembering here that the weightlifting contingent has had limited access to a physiotherapist since they started staying in the Athletes Village - the subject of much controversy with questions being raised over how such an important member failed to find himself on the list of accredited team officials traveling to Gold Coast. https://twitter.com/TheBridge_IN/status/982447027496693760 Nevertheless, while this matter needs answers, for now it suffices that India rejoice at the spectacular display its weightlifting contingent has put up at Gold Coast. Sathish Sivalingam is the latest in a list of standout performers so far and we hope that this comeback is the start of an improved run by the Indian.