Commonwealth Games: India’s weightlifting performance on expected lines

The Indian weightlifters bagged more medals, but slipped on the count of gold in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga competes in Commonwealth Games on July 31.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga competes in Commonwealth Games on July 31. | Photo Credit: Swapan Mahapatra

The Indian weightlifters bagged more medals, but slipped on the count of gold in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The Indian weightlifters bagged more medals, but slipped on the count of gold in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Four years ago, India had collected nine medals, including five golds, in Gold Coast, whereas it gathered 10 medals, including three golds, in Birmingham to retain its No. 1 position. The overall performance was on the expected lines, with the men contributing seven medals.

The women lifters returned only one gold by Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu (49kg), a silver by Bindyarani Devi (55kg) and a surprise bronze by Harjinder Kaur (71kg).

Mirabai’s victory was a foregone conclusion. Even though she could not achieve her target of touching the 90kg mark in snatch, it was heartening to see the ace lifter equaling her personal best of 88kg and getting a total (201kg) closer to her Olympics mark. It will put her preparations for the World Championships on the right track.

“The women lifters performed as per my expectations. Everybody improved her performance,” chief National coach Vijay Sharma told Sportstar.

The biggest disappointment in the women’s section came from seasoned lifter Punam Yadav, who was eyeing a third consecutive Games medal, in 76kg. According to sources, Punam clearly had knee issues during the Khelo India Ranking event in Himachal Pradesh in June. She left for Birmingham on July 26. The rest of the squad had left a month earlier.

Even though the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) top brass reportedly blamed the lifter’s injury for her failure, Vijay said, “We had no option as the qualification was by name.”

Jeremy Lalrinnunga and Achinta Sheuli’s gold medals in 67kg and 73kg were the high points among men’s performances. Both aggregated below their personal best marks, but gave India two important medals and showed promise for the future. The two friends will now clash in 73kg in their attempt to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Both will stay at 73kg until the Olympic qualifiers. When athletes push each other, you have a healthy competition,” said Vijay.

Sanket Sargar, who landed a silver in 55kg, missed out on a gold due to the hand injury he picked up during the competition. Commonwealth championship gold medallist Ajay Singh, who was a medal contender, narrowly missing out on a podium finish in the 81kg class was a jolt.

Vijay said the focus would now be on finding young talents and grooming them for the bigger events.

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