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Commonwealth Games

What does India's weightlifting medal surge mean for the sport in India?

What does Indias weightlifting medal surge mean for the sport in India?
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Published: 11 April 2018 5:49 AM GMT
All is well for India, as it stands tall on the shoulders of the lifters who have scripted a success story in the Commonwealth Games. The Gold Coast edition, with its weightlifting events scheduled in the first half and with India winning gold from day one, has grabbed attention for the sport. Women from places the rest of the country has never heard of are on the first pages of the nation's dailies, but is India truly at the peak of its weightlifting game? The last big show where Indians competed in weightlifting with more countries than in a continent was the Rio Olympics of 2016. At stark odds with the 15 men and women who represented India in the sport at the Australia games, the Olympics ' with its wider scope of competition ' saw just two. Of them, it was only
Sathish Sivalingam
who gave a complete performance, ranking 11 after lifting a total of 329 kg in the 77 kg men's category. Mirabai Chanu, who ranked 6th at the end of the snatch, had an unnatural stroke of bad luck in the clean and jerk. Both were redeemed with gold this Commonwealth Games. The medal tables in the eight men's events at the Olympics were dominated by China, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Iran, Georgia and Armenia ' none of which were part of the commonwealth of nations. The seven women's categories at Rio too were dominated by countries like Thailand, China and North Korea, whose absence is telling in the path to Indian success at the Gold Coast.

In fact, none of the nations which won gold, silver or bronze in Olympic weightlifting compete in the Commonwealth Games.

How significant is this 9-medal haul of India's then? A look back at the Glasgow games shows even more medals. 12. However, only three Indians won gold in 2014 ' Sathish and Sanjita (who both repeated their feat at the 2018 games) and Sukhen Dey. Dey, who is from Howrah, in West Bengal has mysteriously disappeared from weightlifting news since his victory, his failure to qualify to subsequent championships a possible mark of how medalled athletes in India are not immune from faltering for want of system. This time, India has five gold medallists. While Mirabai was an expected winner, Varanasi-girl Punam Yadav's stirring rise from a farmer's household to the podium of the women's 69kg lift has captured hearts.
Venkat Kumar Ragala
, meanwhile, emerges as India's brightest picture of improvement (along with Sanjita who upped her weight category from 48 to 52 in four years). Also read: Indian weightlifters are bringing medals, but at what cost? Ragala ranked ninth in the Anaheim world championships of 2017, but in the Commonwealth this year, he won gold with a 351 kg lift in the men's 85 kg category, that is a whopping 10kg more than what he lifted just a year ago. His success, however, is the lone voice for the argument that Indian weightlifting has seen a rebirth in Australia. It is mostly the same winners, who have won in an extremely narrow playing field. There is a common theory, trending by now, that weightlifting has seen Indian medalists this year because it is forgiving of lack of technique. Technique is reared in young players, whereas the clean and jerk portion of a weightlifter's day requires a fierce blaze of mental (and undoubtedly physical power). The factor made have played an important part in ensuring Indian dominance in the games, but it sure does not augur well for the future of the sport in India.
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