Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu will be a huge source of inspiration for India as it seeks to retain its No. 1 position in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Along with Mirabai, who has an individual tally of one gold and one silver and is the runaway favourite for the women’s 49kg crown, Commonwealth record holder Sanket Sargar (men’s 55kg) and Gururaja (61kg) will be keen to contribute to the country’s medals tally on the opening day on Saturday.
Mirabai, who recorded a total of 191kg in her last outing in June, is miles ahead of her nearest competitor Nigerian Stella Kingsley, who won the Commonwealth championship in December with an aggregate of 168kg. So, Mirabai will look forward to achieving her long cherished goal of 90kg mark in snatch.
Sargar’s best of 256kg makes him the top man in 55kg. Gururaja (265kg) may face some challenges in his attempt to ensure a podium finish.
Tashkent Commonwealth championship winners Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg), a 2018 Youth Olympics champion, and Achinta Sheuli (73kg) are among the leading Indians who can land gold medals. Jeremy, who lifted 305kg for his Commonwealth title and is performing in the range of 290kg-295kg now, may have a keen tussle with Nigerian Joseph Edidiong (295kg).
Achinta, who totalled 316kg in Tashkent, is some distance away from Malaysia’s Mohammad Hidayat (301kg). Another Commonwealth champion Ajay Singh (81kg) will try to go for the gold.
Other than Mirabai, Bindyarani Devi (55kg), Punam Yadav (76kg), who overcame knee issues and would try to get her third successive medal, will be among the podium hopefuls in the women’s section.
India will expect to improve on its previous tally of nine medals, including five golds, in Gold Coast despite the tougher competition.