Indian weightlifting appears to have hit the right notes with a power-packed performance at the recent Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship in Pune. Save for a runner-up finish in the junior boys’ category, the hosts emerged triumphant in all other categories.
Clearly, the robust showing of the Indian lifters couldn’t have come at a better time as the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship is being held in Houston, USA from the third week of November. “It is heartening to see our weightlifters perform well in the recent Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship. It will do a world of good to the confidence of our weightlifters considering the fact that the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship is coming up next month,” says Indian men’s weightlifting team coach Vijay Sharma.
Of course, the ‘competitive stature’ of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship is far different from the World Weightlifting Championship. India grabbed a slew of medals at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games but returned empty-handed at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. “Asian Games is tough because it has the presence of some the world’s top weightlifters from countries like China, Kazakhstan and North Korea – all these nations were the top medal winners in the last World Championship in Kazakhstan,” he explains.
Sharma, a former weightlifter, who had donned the nationals colours between 1990 and 2000 and employed with Railways since 1993 believes in being realistic about India’s prospects at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship in USA. “We are not expecting our weightlifters to make a podium finish. We hope our weightlifters put up a good performance and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Olympic qualification is our main focus.”
Indian men have not won a medal at the World Weightlifting Championship for many decades now. How optimistic is he about ending the medal drought in big events? “Our weightlifters are improving a lot and there is progress to be seen. We are hoping to seal at least three Olympic berths from both men and women categories, remember we had two lifters in the 2012 Olympics with one finishing in the top seven,” he quips.
The 14-member Indian weightlifting contingent will leave for USA on November 9 for 2015 World Weightlifting Championship, which will kick off at Houston from November 20. One hopes the Indian weightlifters give a good account of themselves in the big-ticket event.