Harshada Sharad Garud wins India's first-ever gold medal in Junior Weightlifting World Championships
Competing in the Women's 45kg category, Indian weightlifter Harshada Sharad Garud won a gold medal in Junior Weighlifting World Championships, with a total lift of 153 kg.
Weightlifter Harshada Sharad Garud created history on Monday by becoming the first-ever Indian to win a gold medal in the Junior World Weightlifting Championships in Heraklion, Greece.
Competing in the women's 45kg category, the 16-year-old lifted a total of 153kg (Clean & Jerk 83 kg + Snatch 70kg) to win the title in the field of eight competitors on the opening day of the competition.
The 70kg-effort in snatch earned Harshada a top-of-the-podium finish while she was second-best in the clean and jerk section, behind Turkey's Bektas Cansu (85kg), who took the home the silver medal with an overall effort of 150kg (65kg+85 kg).
Hincu Teodora-Luminita of Moldova bagged the bronze 149kg (67kg+82kg) in the non-Olympic category. The other Indian in the field, Anjali Patel finished fifth overall with a total effort of 148kg (67kg+81kg).
"I am so happy, I can't comprehend what's happening, I am struggling to express my happiness right now. It will take some time to sink in," a delighted Harshada told PTI on the phone. The teenager, who had won the 2020 Khelo India Youth Games under-17 girls' title, took up weightlifting six years ago as a 12-year-old on the insistence of her father Sharad Garud, who himself was a state-level weightlifter. "My father was a state level weightlifter. Although, I never saw him in action, I always heard his stories and stories about him. I never thought of doing anything else," Harshada said.
Before the world event, Harshada along with the rest of the Indian contingent for junior world championship trained at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala for a month. There the youngsters got to meet and interact with senior weightlifters including Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu. "We got to speak to all the seniors. I talked to Mira didi, and asked her about her journey. It was great," said Harshada, who is a first-year Bachelor of Arts student at Savitribai Phule Pune University.
In Greece, Harshada managed to pull off clean lifts in all her six attempts, the only one to achieve the feat in the eight-lifter field which did not see participation from the sport's powerhouse China, which bagged eight medals including seven golds at last year's Tokyo Olympics
Medals are awarded separately for snatch, clean and jerk, and total lift in continental and World Championships. But, just one medal – for total lift – is awarded in the Olympics. Mirabai and Jhilli Dalabehera who won a bronze in the 2013 and 2018 editions, respectively and last year's silver winner Achinta Sheuli are the other Indians who have won medals at the junior world event previously.
Harshada had bagged the under-17 girls' 45kg youth title with an aggregate of 139kg at the Khelo India Youth Games in 2020. An eight-member Indian team is competing at the IWF junior men's and women's World Weightlifting Championships, The Indian team comprises six women and two men.
(With inputs from PTI)