Here are the profiles of all the athletes who will represent India in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham.
Sanket Sargar (55kg); Age: 21; From: Sangli, Maharashtra
Sanket got into weightlifting, the only choice in his area, at the age of 13. Sanket forced everyone to take note of his performance when he upset National junior champion Muna Nayak to win the Khelo India Youth Games title in Guwahati and the Khelo India University Games gold in Bhubaneswar in 2020. A three-time National champion, Sanket registered his best performance, including Commonwealth records of 143kg in clean and jerk and 256kg in total, to secure the top place in men’s 55kg at the Singapore International event in 2022. He will be a strong medal contender in Birmingham.
Gururaja (61kg); Age: 29; From: Udupi, Karnataka
Gururaja, employed with the Indian Air Force, made his mark when he won the Commonwealth championships gold medal in 56kg in 2016. He added a bronze in the same competition the following year and a silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast with a total of 249kg. After going up to 61kg, the experienced lifter showed an improvement in his performance (265kg) and claimed a silver in the 2021 Commonwealth championships. He will be one of the medal hopefuls.
Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg); Age: 19; From: Aizawl, Mizoram
Guided by his boxer father, Jeremy developed a liking for lifting from a very young age. One of the weightlifting prodigies, Jeremy, a product of Army’s Boys Sports Company, stamped his class when he claimed the Youth Olympics gold medal in 62kg at Buenos Aires in 2018. Jeremy, who bagged medals in top international age group events, finally made his mark at the elite level when he won the National championships in Kolkata in 2020. He battled injuries before getting his first gold medal at a senior international event, in the Commonwealth championships in Tashkent in 2021.
Achinta Sheuli (73kg); Age: 20; From: Howrah, West Bengal
One of the most promising talents in the country, Achinta, who lost his father early, defied poverty to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother and took to weightlifting. As he got eye-catching results in various age group competitions at National and international level, Achinta started getting support from various quarters. He established himself as an elite lifter last year when he smashed a few National records to get a silver medal (with a total of 313kg) in the World junior championships and later emerge as the Commonwealth championships gold medallist (316kg) in Tashkent.
Ajay Singh (81kg); Age: 25; From: Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan
Ajay is another experienced lifter who has been competing in top international events for several years. The Army man, a Maharana Pratap award winner from Rajasthan Government, has finished with a medal at the Commonwealth championships multiple times. He was the third man, other than Jeremy and Achinta, to win the 2021 Commonwealth title and earn a direct qualification to the Birmingham Games.
Vikas Thakur (96kg); Age: 28; From: Ludhiana, Punjab
Vikas is one of the most experienced lifters in the Commonwealth Games bound Indian squad. A former Commonwealth junior champion and Asian junior medallist, Vikas made an impact when he won the elite title in 85kg at the Commonwealth championships in 2015. He added another feather to his cap when he took a bronze medal in 94kg in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. A Commonwealth bronze medallist in 96kg last year, Vikas, who works with the Indian Air Force, will be a medal hopeful in Birmingham.
Lovepreet Singh (109kg); Age: 24; From Amritsar, Punjab
Another lifter from Punjab, Lovepreet impressed all as a young lifter when he landed a bronze in the Asian junior championships and a Commonwealth junior champion in 2017. He improved his performance to take the silver medal in 109kg at the 2021 Commonwealth championships. Lovepreet, who is employed by the Indian Navy, will try to realise his potential at the Commonwealth Games.
Gurdeep Singh (+109kg); Age: 26; From Ludhiana, Punjab
In the heavier weights, Gurdeep is another lifter who gives India hope. Gurdeep, who works with the Indian Railways, earned his first medal at the senior international level when he landed a bronze in +105kg in the Commonwealth championships in 2017. He missed out on a medal in the 2018 Gold Coast Games as he managed the fourth position. His third place finish, on the back of an improved clean and jerk showing (217kg), at the Commonwealth championships in 2021 should encourage Gurdeep.
Mirabai Chanu (49kg); Age: 27; From: Imphal East, Manipur
After proving her mettle in various age group events, Mirabai, who came from a humble background, got some attention when she secured a silver medal in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She improved her total to take the 2017 World title and the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold in 48kg. An Asian championships bronze medal with a world record (119kg) in clean and jerk and her personal best total of 205kg made her a strong contender for an Olympics medal. She rose to the occasion to aggregate 202kg and claimed a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and is way ahead of her rivals.
Bindyarani Devi (55kg); Age: 23; From: Imphal West, Manipur
Bindyarani has some similarities with Olympics medallist Mirabai as she comes from the same state. When the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre was closed due to Covid, Bindyarani trained under the guidance of Mirabai’s early coach Anita Chanu. Bindyarani made an impact in 2019 when she won the Commonwealth championships title. She improved her performance from 185kg to 198kg but ended up with a silver in the 2021 edition of the Commonwealth championships. She remains one of the medal prospects for the country.
Popy Hazarika (59kg); Age: 21; From: Sibsagar, Assam
Hailing from Namati in Sibsagar district, Popy took to weightlifting early and trained at the Sports Authority of India centre at Golaghat. Popy, working as a technician in the Indian Railway, lifted 189kg to bag the silver medal in the Commonwealth championships in Tashkent in 2021. She got a berth in the Games through her improved ranking. She raised her aggregate to 195kg to win the National crown and brightened her chances of a medal in Birmingham.
Harjinder Kaur (71kg); Age: 25; From: Patiala, Punjab
Harjinder, who won the 2021 National title by lifting 202kg, increased her total to 211kg to take the silver medal in the Commonwealth championships. She qualified through the rankings and showed consistency in the National championships this year by totaling 208kg and retaining her crown in Bhubaneswar.
Punam Yadav (76kg); Age: 27; From: Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh
A multiple Asian junior medallist and a Commonwealth junior champion, Punam made headlines when she bagged a bronze medal in 63kg on her Commonwealth Games debut in Glasgow in 2014. She went on to win the Commonwealth championship in 2015. Punam grew in stature as she grabbed the Commonwealth Games title in 69kg in 2018. Now at 76kg, Punam has already secured a silver in the Commonwealth championships and looks forward to making it three in a row at the Games.
Usha B.N. (87kg); Age: 27; From: Hassan, Karnataka
Usha, who had managed a third place with an aggregate of 181kg in the National championships in Patiala in 2021, grabbed the chance when she got to compete in the Asian qualifying event in Singapore in February 2022. The Indian Railway employee showed significant improvement to total 208kg to make it to the Commonwealth Games.
Purnima Pandey (+87kg); Age: 24; From: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Purnima, who proved herself at the youth and junior level by landing medals in the Asian and Commonwealth championships, has improved her performance of late. She won the National title in Patiala last year with an effort of 223kg and bettered it to 229kg to claim a gold medal in the 2021 Commonwealth championships. She was the only Indian woman to get a direct qualification. Now she will try to perform better than her sixth place finish (212kg) in the previous edition in Gold Coast.