After overcoming a swollen liver in December last year, Harshada Garud never thought that within a few months she would become the first Indian to win a gold medal in the World junior weightlifting championships.

When she did, the 18-year-old spontaneously credited the coaching staff whose wholehearted backing helped the Pune girl improve her performance within a few months.

“I had an issue owing to a swollen liver. After recovering, I joined the National camp in December. Thanks to the support of our coaches, I could improve my performance quickly,” Harshada told Sportstar from Heraklion.

From her total of 139kg in the Asian championships and the Khelo India Youth Games in early 2020, Harshada raised her performance to register 143kg in Patiala at the National championships, where she finished second in the youth division and fourth among juniors, in August 2021.

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Harshada returned to competition in the Bhubaneswar Nationals in March this year and posted a snatch performance of 66kg and clean and jerk of 79kg to total 145kg and take the third place. She raised it to 153kg, including a superb snatch effort of 70kg, to win the World junior gold.

A focus to keep getting better propelled Harshada to not just achieve her best mark but also get ahead of others including compatriot Anjali Patel, the current National youth champion and junior silver medallist with an aggregate of 147kg.

“I had a little idea about the field. I did not have any target. I just wanted to do my best,” said Harshada.

“The real improvement happened at the National camp. The coaches worked to change my technique. Everything is so professional at the camp. You get a proper diet and all sorts of assistance. There is a lot of discipline and coaches take care of the athletes,” said the first year B.A. student.

For the time being, Harshada will continue to remain in the 45kg weight class. “This is my natural body weight. So, I will continue with this until it becomes necessary to go up to a heavier weight,” she said.