Nineteen-year-old Vikas Thakur gave a commanding performance to claim his maiden National title in the National weightlifting championship at the SRM University campus here on Tuesday.

Powered by his superb show in clean and jerk, Thakur, a Services lifter hailing from Ludhiana, Punjab, gathered a total of 321kg to claim the top honour in the men’s 85kg category. His closest competitors, Vijay Mathur of Uttar Pradesh and Neeraj Sharma of Delhi, lifted an identical 306kg.

Mathur, who weighed 83.2kg, took the second place because of his lighter body weight. Neeraj, who was 200gm heavier than Mathur, settled for the third place.

It was Thakur who stole the show on the third day of the championship. Thakur, an Asian and Commonwealth junior medallist, had gone up from 77kg to 85kg category only a few months ago and this was his second competition in the new weight.

Thakur, who hoisted 144kg in his last attempt, managed to pip Neeraj and win the snatch event by just one kg. However, he adopted an aggressive approach to raise the bar in the clean and jerk by starting with 170kg.

After Delhi’s Sunil lifted a 176, Thakur got past him by clearing 177kg on his second attempt and beat his chest after ensuring the National crown.

In an effort to better the clean and jerk National record of 185kg, Thakur went for 186kg in his final attempt but failed to achieve the mark.

“My body weight went down to 81kg because of the travel and the temperature difference (between Pune and here). That is the main reason why I could not break the National mark,” said Thakur, who joined the Air Force six months ago.

“Thakur has a bright future and he can do much better,” said Army coach B.S. Mehdwan.

Vandana Gupta of Uttar Pradesh won the women’s 63kg title. Vandana and Reena of Haryana aggregated 195kg each. However, Vandana emerged as the champion due to her lower body weight.

The results: Men: 77kg: 1. S. Sathish Kumar (RSPB) snatch 135kg, clean and jerk 165kg, total 300kg; 2. Tej Singh (AIP) 132kg, 163kg, 295kg; 3. Ajaydeep Sarang (Chg) 132kg, 160kg, 292kg.

85kg: 1. Vikas Thakur (SSCB) 144kg, 177kg, 321kg; 2. Vijay Mathur (UP) 139kg, 167kg, 306kg; 3. Neeraj Sharma (Del) 143kg, 163kg, 306kg.

Women: 58kg: 1. Meena Kumari (AIP) 80kg, 106kg, 186kg; 2. Premeshowri Devi (Mani) 77kg, 98kg, 175kg; 3. Minati Sethi (RSPB) 76kg, 96kg, 172kg.

63kg: 1. Vandana Gupta (UP) 87kg, 108kg, 195kg; 2. Reena (Har) 83kg, 112kg, 195kg; 3. Seeta Jena (Odi) 81kg, 107kg, 188kg.

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