It was one final opportunity for the Indian weightlifters to make a mark at the 2016 Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. And it was a final opportunity simply because it was the last Olympic qualifying event with only the African, Oceania and Pan American Championships being held in the months of May and June.
A lot was at stake for the Indian weightlifting in Tashkent and they did not disappoint bagging two Olympic quotas in both the men’s and women’s section. The Indian women comprising the likes of Sanjita Chanu and Mirabai Chanu put up a dogged performance logging 100 points in the women’s team event to finish third behind Vietnam and Uzbekistan.
The Indian men accumulated 129 points to finish sixth in the men’s team event. The qualification rules stipulate that countries must finish in the top-seven to make the Olympic cut.
The two Olympic berths must be a welcome relief for the Indian weightlifting contingent after the country’s lifters had turned in a disappointing performance at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championship in Houston, USA.
Indian weightlifting head coach Vijay Sharma had expressed his optimism before heading for Uzbekistan that the team would finish in the top seven and the lifters just did that.
Sharma, a former national-level weightlifter, is relieved to see the country bag two Olympic berths. “I’m happy to see our weightlifters bag two Olympic quotas. It augurs well for the future. I was confident that both our men and women teams will do well in Tashkent and they performed well. Our women team finished third which is a creditable achievement,” he says with elation.
The Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) will conduct trials across all weight divisions to select two lifters -- one man and one woman -- to represent the country at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The federation will decide on the date of the trials later. “Our boys and girls will take a break and gear up for the nationals. The trials will be competitive as Olympic berths are up for grabs. We want our lifters to be in the podium finish, although it will not be easy,” Sarma quips.
One hopes that the Indian lifters makes the most of the two Olympic quota places and makes the country proud in Rio.