Indians disappoint

THE gain of four quota berths by its women's team for next year's Olympic Games in Athens notwithstanding, it was still a disappointing show by the Indians in Vancouver.

The Indian women, as they finished eighth in the team rankings behind China, Thailand, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Colombia and South Korea, failed to win any medal thus exposing the fact that they still have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the world.

The best Indian performance in the nine-day event came from veteran N. Kunjurani Devi, who finished fifth in the 48 kg category with a total of 182.5 kg. She was fourth in clean and jerk with 102.5 kg after snatching 80 kg.

In the 53 kg class, Nandini Devi was placed sixth overall with a total of 200 kg (90 kg in snatch and 110 kg in clean and jerk), just ahead of team-mate T. Sanamacha Chanu who compiled a total of 190 kg with efforts of 82.5 kg in snatch and 107.5 kg in clean and jerk.

Prasmita Mangraj could finish only a poor 18th in the 58 kg category, the same spot earned by Sunaina in the 63 kg weight division. The other Indian entry in the 63 kg category, Pratima Kumari, fared slightly better by finishing 12th.

The biggest disappointment however, was the 12th place finish by 2000 Olympics bronze-medallist, Karnam Malleswari in the 75 kg category. Returning to competition after a gap of almost three years and in a higher weight category than the 69 kg class in which she took part in Sydney, Malleswari seemed just a mere shadow of her former self as she ended up with a total of 235 kg.

In the men's section, the Indian show was restricted to two entries in the 56 kg class. But here again, neither Vicky Batta nor Sreenivasa V. Rao could make an impression before finishing way down the order. Batta was placed 20th with a total of 242.5 kg while Rao finished five rungs further down with a total of 235 kg.

With all but 50 of the Olympic quota berths already taken, the Indian men will now have to continue their search at the continental-level or hope to gain a wild card.

The Indian women are not eligible for any more berths and it is now left to the Weightlifting Federation of India to decide on the composition of the Indian team for the Athens Olympics as these berths are allotted to a country and not individual lifters.