With big names missing, chance for young weightlifters to impress

Commonwealth weightlifting championships, Asian junior meet scheduled later this month

Published - July 06, 2023 06:13 pm IST - NEW DELHI

With Mirabhai Chanu and Bindyarani Devi undergoing training in St. Louis, USA, other weightlifters have to opportunity to prove their mettle.

With Mirabhai Chanu and Bindyarani Devi undergoing training in St. Louis, USA, other weightlifters have to opportunity to prove their mettle. | Photo Credit: File photo: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

While the Asian Games remain the big-ticket event of the year for the elite athletes, other Indian weightlifters will get a chance to impress at home during the Commonwealth Senior, Junior and Youth Championships (July 12-16) and the Asian Junior & Youth Championships (July 28-August 5), both slated to be held later this month in Greater Noida.

With top Indian names including Mirabai Chanu missing, the competitions will help others prove themselves. Mirabai, alongwith Bindyarani Devi, is currently training in St. Louis, USA. Both have been named in the squad for the World Championships and Asian Games later this year.

“As a sport we are still lagging despite being among the earliest to get an individual Olympic medal. These events will help increase the visibility of our sport,” Indian Weightlifting Federation president Sahdev Yadav said here on Thursday.

One conspicuous absentee is Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga, sidelined with a slip disc issue and out of action for the remaining competitions this year. “Jeremy has been sent back to the Army and asked to rest and recover. He needs to rest at least two months before getting back to training.

“He had been cleared by TOPS for rehabilitation in St. Louis but refused to go. He also did not appear for trials for World Championships and Asian Games and needs to increase his weight to compete in the 73kg category since his event (67kg) is not included in the Paris Olympics,” Yadav explained.

With doping a big concern, Sahdev insisted things were better. “Yes we have faced international ban and heavy fines also in the past but I can assure you things are different now. All national campers and core group lifters have their whereabouts constantly tracked, we conduct surprise tests and checks of their rooms and there is no leniency. The technology for testing has also improved a lot and there is nowhere to hide. No sport can claim to be 100 percent dope free but we are constantly working to improve,” he stressed.

While the Commonwealth Championships will see participation from 253 athletes from 20 countries, the Asian event is expected to feature 325 athletes from 33 countries. “We are struggling for funds, there is no denying that. The government cannot give funds directly to the federation but even though they can pay the vendors and others involved, it is a long-drawn process that still leaves us with a lot to do on our own. But I am confident of putting up a good show,” Yadav said.

Six-member team for World Championships

India will field a six-member team at the World Championships, scheduled to be held in Riyadh in September, barely a week before the Asian Games kick off. Besides Mirabai and Bindyarani, four men — Shubham Todkar (61kg), N. Ajith and Achinta Sheuli (73kg) and Gurdeep Singh (109kg) — will be participating. Shubham is the only one in action at the Commonwealth meet.

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