CWG 2018: Gururaja opens India’s medal account

The 28-year-old weightlifter struck a silver medal in the men’s 56kg final with a total lift of 249kg. He lifted 111 kg and 139kg, after failing in his first two attempts.

India’s P. Gururaja claimed the first medal for India at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Thursday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

P. Gururaja, a native of Chitturu in Karnataka, who had begun his sporting career as a wrestler, enthused by Sushil Kumar’s bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but was forced to change over to this iron sport by his coach stood the test in the men’s 56kg category well to claim the silver medal.

It was more than a bit of struggle for the Indian Air Force lifter as he could not make progress in the manner he intended. In snatch, he started with a good 107kg but was red-lighted in his second attempt which he again had to repeat in the third. Yet, his 11kg could only place him in the third spot behind Izhar Ahmad who capped up a Games record-breaking performance of 119kg and Sri Lankan Lakmal Chaturanga, who managed 114 kg.

Gururaja was all in the woods as he started the clean and jerk, failing to clear 138kg in his first two attempts and was left on the verge of elimination. However, the Indian kept his cool by gaining a positive verdict in his third trial and was zoomed into the second place when Chaturanga could do nothing better than 134kg. This left Gururaja with a total of 249kg and the silver medal, just beating Chaturanga by a margin of 1kg. Ahmad, who had celebrated his 24 birthday on Wednesday, was a hands down winner with a total of 261kg, yet another Games record.

The Indian was ecstatic with the final turn of events and was thankful to his coach for the just reward he earned with his hard work. “I thought my second attempt in clean and jerk was good but the judges turned it down on account of the slight movement of my hand. Further, I also missed the services of my physio and this left me with a bad back. However, I am grateful to God for this wonderful gift, which will also help me perform better in the coming years.”

The men’s 62kg final, late into the evening, did not work in India’s favour as Muthupandi was clearly outclassed by rivals before finishing sixth with a total of 266kg (116 in snatch, 150 in clean and jerk) even as Muhamad Aznil Bidin ensured Malaysia with its second gold medal of the day.

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