Battling to survive as an Olympic sport, weightlifting's world governing body is likely to introduce six new divisions among a total of 10 for the 2024 Paris Games, retaining only four from the Tokyo edition, a move that will see Indian teen sensation Jeremy Lalrinnunga's current category being lopped off the roster.
The proposal needs to be approved by the International Weightlifting Federation's General Council before being sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its nod. The proposed weight categories for Paris 2024 include five each for males and females. They are 61kg, 73kg, 89kg, 102kg and +102kg for men, and 49kg, 59kg, 71kg, 81kg and +81kg for women.
The ones retained from Tokyo are 49kg and 59kg for women and 61kg and 73kg for men. The changes, which come a year after the IOC allocated a quota of 120 athletes across all divisions for the Paris Games, highlights the diminishing presence of weightlifting at the sporting extravaganza. While the 2016 Rio Games had seen the participation of 260 athletes across 15 weight categories, the quota was cut came down to 196 in 14 classes in the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.
"This (10 weight categories) is just a proposal, it well first go to IWF's general body for approval followed by the IOC. Only then will these categories be confirmed," Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) president Sahdev Yadav told PTI. A final decision is expected by the end of February. "The next (IWF General Council) meeting date has not been decided yet. Chances are that by January or February it will happen," Yadav said.
Should the proposal be approved, Jeremy, who currently competes in the men's 67kg category will have to either bulk up to 73kg or come down to 61kg. Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu, the other Indian lifter in the fray for the Paris Games, remains unaffected as her weight class is proposed to be retained.
Asked how the new categories will impact the Indian camp Yadav said, "This will not affect us, we will take Jeremy to the upper category 73kg. I don't think it (the decreasing weight categories in the Olympics) will make a difference to weightlifting in India."
Reiterating Yadav's comments, national coach Vijay Sharma said the Asian Games next year will be the last event in which Jeremy participates in the 67kg category before moving on to his new weight class. "This is a good thing for us, we will start preparing for the Olympics after the Asian Games. Up till the Asian Games Jeremy will take part in 67kg till. After that he will move to the 73kg category. He will have to work hard to bulk up but we will manage," Sharma said from Patiala.
This will not be the first time Jeremy will have to bulk up. The 19-year-old lifter from Mizoram had won the 2018 Youth Olympics gold medal in Buenos Aires in the 62kg category. He had then moved to 67kg to comply with the new Olympic weight categories the IWF had introduced then.
Recently, Jeremy has consistently been improving his personal best in the 67kg and has already qualified in the 67kg category for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games thanks to his gold medal finish at the Commonwealth Championship in Tashkent earlier this month.
Weightlifting also remains at risk of being removed from the 2028 LA Games programme because of governance issues and a lengthy history of doping problems.