Golom Tinku, barely in his teenage years, had no great agenda in mind when he started lifting aged eight near his home in rural Arunachal Pradesh. Now 13, he is pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved only by a few of Golom’s age in a state that has a poor sporting infrastructure to hinge on. “I had no clue what weightlifting is about. It is only when I started weightlifting that I became aware,” he chuckled. Behind his slight grin are copious tales of inherent prejudices, discrimination, and decadence of thought and practice that have come to dominate the arena of Indian sports for centuries together.
Golom recently scripted a new national record after lifting 215kg in the 55kg category at the 15th Youth National Weightlifting Championships. Having bagged the gold medal at the tournament, he is one of a rare handful of athletes to transcend the world of sports. However, winning a gold medal is no small feat, I apprised him. But little Golom disagreed. Then came the staunch reply,
While podiums and records are no less than a flair reflection of weightlifting’s unprecedented change in fortune over the recent years, the soaring expectations from teenagers like Golom is truly a testament to the talent at the sport’s disposal. Born in 2006, Tinku, as his friends lovingly call him, can now pass without an introduction in the rural patches of his native town. Little can be said about golden kids like Golom, about the harrowing tales of unique struggles, and about how the poorest of poor bring home the golden riches.
That a 13-year-old weightlifter is marking a rise of teen phenoms in the country is an achievement second to none. Currently training at the AOC Training Center in Secunderabad, Golom’s success at this age has invariably challenged the widely held idea that weightlifting is an adult’s sport involving physical strength. “Bachhe ekbar jo thaan lete hain, woh karke hi chhod te hain. Uska mann bahut ziddi hota hain. Ziddi waali mann hi toh chahiye aage chalke, wohi sab kuch kar sakta hain. Usko thoda sa bhi agar support mil jaaye toh bahut kuch kar sakta hain. Main bhi bahut ziddi hun (Children are by nature very stubborn. If they pin hopes on something, they do it. Only those who are stubborn can make a mark in sports. If somebody gets even a little support, they are sure to reach places. I am very stubborn, too),” he said rather doggedly.
Well, the glitter of gold certainly marked a step forward, believed his coach. “He has a lot of potential. I don’t just motivate him physically & financially, but mentally too. I will always keep supporting him. Har coach, sirf mein nahi, jab uska bachha gold medal leta hain, lagta hain ki woh coach khud hi medal le raha hain, aisa feel hota hain (Every coach, not just me, when his child wins a gold medal, the coach feels as if he has himself won the medal),” said he.
Coming from a humble background, Golom lost his father at an early age. His mother is a farmer, supporting the family of six. “He is not financially stable. I support him from my heart. Because he comes from a poor background. It is a pity. I too come from a humble background. Whatever little I earn, I use it for him and the other kids,” he added.
Golom’s success story, not out of competitive ingenuity, but out of sheer determination, is all down to the will to succeed. With teens like Golom crushing the glass ceiling in Indian sports, it is perhaps time to throw the hat in the ring. He marks the epitome of a new challenge, ushering in a new dawn for Indian sports and leaving behind a legacy. Go go, Golom!