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Sport - Weightlifting Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Kunjarani set for a comeback after drug ban

By Our Sports Reporter

NEW DELHI JULY 9. After serving a six-month suspension for testing positive, Kunjarani Devi will return to international competition at the Commonwealth Games to be held in Manchester from July 25 to August 4.

Kunjarani tested positive for the stimulant, strychnine, at the 2001 Asian weightlifting championship held at Jeon Ju, South Korea. She had won two gold and a silver at the championships in the 48-kg category.

She returned to the arena after her suspension was relaxed by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), on January 13 this year, when the fine of $ 1200 was deposited with the world body. Kunjarani participated in the Nationals and expectedly dominated her weight category.

"We have selected all the medal hopefuls for the Games. There may be just one stray case among the men, who may struggle to get any medal,'' said Balbir Singh Bhatia, member of the ad-hoc committee overseeing weightlifting in India.

The selection was done on the basis of the current Commonwealth rankings. "I am sure, most of India's medals is going to come from weightlifting,'' he added.

With three gold medals on offer in each weight category, unlike in the Olympic and Asian Games, India can hope to strike big in Manchester.

Besides Kunjarani, N. Laxmi is also making a comeback after a gap of three years. The 69-kg lifter Laxmi last participated in the 1999 World Championships and her failure to win a medal had cost India a quota berth in the Sydney Olympic Games.

"She has now improved and we hope she will do well. Also P. Shailaja, in 75-kg, is another bright prospect,'' said Mr. Balbir Singh.

Shailaja, winner of three gold medals in the junior Asian championship in May, in Khonken, Thailand, will be making her debut in senior category.

Among the men, T. Mutthu, in 56-kg, is tipped to win gold medal. G. Vadivellu (69-kg) and Satish Rai (77-kg) are the other favourites to make the medal bracket.

In the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, India won 13 medals. But during the Games, a few countries had proposed that weightlifting follow same rules, in awarding medals, as in the Olympics. It was, in principle, decided that from Manchester, one gold per weight category be awarded. Such a move would have severely affected India's prospects. So the Indian body, along with several African countries, lobbied with the Commonwealth Games Federation and got the decision reversed.

The team:

Men: T. Mutthu (56-kg), Vicky Batta (56), K. Madasamy (62), Sudhir Kumar (69), G. Vadivellu (69), Satisha Rai (77).

Women: N. Kunjarani Devi (48), Sanamacha Chanu (53), Sunaina (58), Prasmita Manraj (58), Pritama Kumari (63), P. Shailaja (75), N. Laxmi (69).

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