Friday, October 9, 2015

Bullish about doing well in world championship, says weightlifter Satish Kumar

Weightlifting runs in the Sivalingam family. It was not really difficult for Satish Kumar to pursue an interest for weightlifting as his father Sivalingam, a former lifter, who had won numerous medals at the national level, offering him enough motivation to take up the sport with his dad working as his first coach.

The 23-year-old Vellore-born weightlifter, who had won a gold medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is a four time national champion in the 77 kg category and is keen to do well in the upcoming Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship to be held next week in Pune as well as the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship to be held in USA next month.

Satish, who works as a Senior Clerk with Southern Railways, Chennai, spoke about the upcoming World Weightlifting Championship and much more in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts:

Q Must be excited about the upcoming Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship, which is starting in Pune next week.

There is nothing like performing in front of the home crowd and the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship will be an opportunity to make our weightlifting lovers proud. I have twice won the gold medal in 77 kg in the 2012 and 2013 editions in Western Samoa and Malaysia. It will be nice to make it a hat-trick of gold medals in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship.

Q You have been enjoying a dominating presence in the 77 kg category ever since you made your senior international debut in 2011 in the South Asian Championship in Nepal. What’s your take on your domestic competitors in your weight category?

There is a great deal of competition in my weight category – K Ravi bhaiya (Kumar) is a fierce competitor and there are others. I won a silver medal in my debut senior nationals in 2011 and then went on to win four gold medals in the next four senior nationals. I think I have coped well in this category despite all the competition around.

Q Tell us a bit about your biggest moment – winning a gold medal in 77 kg at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

It was hugely satisfying to win a gold medal for my country at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. I had to compete with seasoned Katulu Ravi Kumar, who is an Olympian as well as Australia’s Francois Etoundi (AUS) among others and lifted a total weight of 329 kg to claim the gold medal.

Q You could not build on that gold winning effort in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games as you were not keeping well after reaching Incheon.

I had fever and could not take part in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. It was disappointing for me but such things are not in my control.

Q It is generally felt that weightlifters need adequate recovery time to be in best shape for an international event. The 2014 Asian Games was held barely a month after the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Your thoughts.

Weightlifting is a sport where you need proper recovery time for any lifter to perform at his best. Ideally, any event should have a gap of two months or so but I agree having two such big events in two months can be highly demanding for any weightlifter.

Q You made your debut in the 2014 World Weightlifting Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan. How was the experience?

I finished 22nd in the 2014 World Weightlifting Championship. The event was held less than two months after the 2014 Asian Games. As you know, I had to pull out of the Asian Games owing to a bout of fever, it affected my game as I thought that if I did not had that fever issue in Incheon I would have easily finished in the top-15.

Q
The 2015 World Weightlifting Championship will be held in Houston, USA in November. How do you assess your chances?

I’m fully fit and have been training hard at our national camp in Patiala. I recently had an exposure trip to Egypt and will be travelling to USA much in advance before the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship. The 2016 Rio Olympic qualifying berths are for grabs and I would have to be at my best and finish in the top 15 and lift a total weight of 340. If I touch 340 it should assure me an Olympic berth.

Q You have been consistently featuring in the 77 kg category since you burst on to the senior level in 2011. Who are the most formidable lifters in your category.

China dominates the 77 kg and the current world and asian champion are Chinese. Lifters from Egypt, Kazakhstan and Cuba are also so strong.

Q Where do you think Indian men weightlifters are lagging behind as compared to the world’s top lifters given the fact the Indian men have not won a medal in the world championship for a very long time now.

I do not think that Indian weightlifters are lagging behind the world’s best. It is just that these top lifters have a proper structure in place in their respective nations. Look at China for instance, they have ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C teams and their lifters have a personal physios and masseurs. In India, we do get these facilities for major events only and it will nice if we also get more personal attention at national camps. Having personal physios and masseurs will be big boost to Indian weightlifting.

Q Finally, you dad played a big part in your weightlifting journey.

I owe a lot of success to him – he himself was a weightlifter who won many medals at the national level and was employed with the Army and now is retired. He was my first coach – I trained at the Atlas Weightlifting Training Centre adjacent to my house and took off from there.
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