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Overcoming the odds, lifting spirits

Fruits of labour: Sanket has made the 55kg category his own, thanks to his rigorous training.

Fruits of labour: Sanket has made the 55kg category his own, thanks to his rigorous training.

One grew up in a village of weightlifters while the other grazes cattle to support his family. On Wednesday, both shattered the National record at the Khelo India University Games (KIUG).

Sanket Mahadev Sargar rewrote the record books, lifting a total of 244 kgs to clinch the gold in the men’s 55kg category. The 19-year-old has made the 55kg section his own — he won gold at the senior National and at the Khelo India Youth Games last month.

A student of Kolhapur’s Shivaji University, Sanket arrived in Bhubaneswar weighing 1.7 kilos more than the permissible limit and had to reduce his intake massively to be eligible to compete.

“I came here weighing 56.7kgs and had to completely cut down on my carbohydrates before the event. I ate boiled vegetables and salads, and even had to restrict my water intake. My calves have begun to cramp,” he said, grimacing as he clutched the back of his right leg.

Obvious choice

Hailing from the weightlifting belt of Sangli, the sport was an obvious choice.

“The children in our locality hardly play any other sport. I got into weightlifting when I was 13,” he said. Sanket trains for close to 12 hours a day and his hard work has paid off as he has been chosen for the National camp to be held in Patiala from March 10.

Sanket has set his sights on the 61kg category which is part of the Olympics roster. “I want to make it to the 2024 Olympics and will have to move to 61kg. It will be a huge jump and it will take me two years to be fully prepared for it, but I’m determined to get there,” he said.

Sanket was pushed to the limit by Prashant Suresh Koli, who scripted a new National record in snatch but had to settle for silver. Prashant has a similar tale, almost.

He was around 13 when his father lost his battle to cancer and the teenager had to chip in financially. While his mother works in a farm, his brother drives a tempo. Prashant used to contribute to the family’s coffers by grazing cattle in his village of Mhasavad in Jalgaon district in northern Maharashtra, before his cousin brother’s coach asked him to try his luck at weightlifting.

Prashant shot into the limelight when he won silver at the inter-University Games, but was soon dealt a blow as he suffered a bout of typhoid. He was confined to a hospital bed and was out of action for eight days.

The illness took away some of his physical strength, but that did not deter him. He returned to the training mat soon after and got back in shape, just in time for his silver-winning campaign here. “It feels good to be back,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2022 10:13:00 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/overcoming-the-odds-lifting-spirits/article30925063.ece