There was a collective gasp in Hall 1 of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham as weightlifter Sanket Mahadev Sargar winced in pain and dropped the barbell. He was trying to record a ‘good lift’ – 139 kg – in clean and jerk to all but assure a gold medal for India in the men’s 55kg division. He had lifted 113 kg in snatch, six more than second placed Mohamad Aniq Bin Kasdan of Malaysia.
“There were no errors committed during the (failed) lift. I felt a sudden load on my right elbow so I couldn’t control. I heard something click,” the 21-year-old, later said.
Sanket headed to the backroom, where coach Vijay Sharma asked him not to go for the final attempt. The lifter from Sangli, however, didn’t want to give up.
“I had to lift because I needed the gold medal at all costs. I have been training for the last four years only for the gold,” Sanket said.
The coach, although initially not on board with the idea, later egged Sanket on. “He told me I could do it.”
With a green signal from the coach, Sanket proceeded to attempt 139kg again. He failed, shrieked and grimaced in pain, before hobbling out of the arena.
Aniq Bin Kasdan followed and pulled off a courageous 142 kg lift to overcome the deficit from the snatch, and pip Sanket by one kg for the gold.
As Sanket stood on the podium, his right arm in a sling, tears rolled down his cheeks. He is the second CWG medallist from Sangli after wrestler Maruti Mane, who won a silver at the 1970 Edinburgh Games.
While heading to the medical bay to get an X-ray, he said, “I am a bit happy that I could medal but mostly I am disappointed and aggrieved. I did not take the risk to go beyond my national record because completing a lift is important.”
Sanket dedicated his medal, India’s first at this year’s Commonwealth Games, to those who lost their lives during India’s fight for Independence. “The freedom fighters didn’t care for their lives and gave us independence. I am dedicating this win to all of them,” he said.