Jeremy Lalrinnunga: Aim is to try for a medal at Tokyo Olympics

Youth Olympic champion Jeremy Lalrinnunga clinched the men's 67kg title in the 72nd men's and 35th womens' Senior National Weightlifting Championships.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga dressed in traditional Mizoram attire, poses with father Lalnnaihehtlua, a National level medal-winning boxer in the 1990s.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

For Youth Olympics gold medallist weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga, winning his maiden National title was an emotional moment. The 18-year-old quickly put on traditional Mizoram attire, a black and white checked half-sleeved shirt and a matching bandana, for the medal ceremony.

It was a proud moment for Jeremy as he received the 67kg gold medal from his father Lalnnaihehtlua, a National level medal-winning boxer of the 1990s. “My father had never seen me doing weightlifting in a competition,” he said.

Jeremy, third among Lalnnaihehtlua's five sons, takes pride in his and his father's sport. Two tattoos, depicting a lifter and a boxer with dates – July 7, 1988 (when his father began boxing) and November 11, 2011 (when he touched the barbell) – written in Roman numerals, adorn his left forearm. His father underlines his family’s strong belief in hard work and God. “I tell Jeremy, ‘Give your best, God is up there,’” said Lalnnaihehtlua, with a lot of passion.

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Immediate target

With the Olympics around the corner, the expectation has taken shape. After winning the Youth Olympics gold in Buenos Aires in October 2018, Jeremy, who increased his body weight a year ago, has successfully graduated from junior to elite level by taking part in some top events.

As he looks forward to giving his best in the upcoming Asian championships, an Olympic qualifying event, Jeremy knows where he stands in terms of performance in the world level.

“I am trying to improve two to five kg in every event. The target for April is to improve 10kg each in snatch and clean and jerk. That will help me qualify for the Olympics.”

In the World Championships in Pattaya in September last, Jeremy did a total of 296kg – 41kg away from gold medallist Chen Lijun of China – to finish 21st.

Here, he lifted a total of 299kg, including the National record of 167kg in clean and jerk, but was eight kg short of his mark of 140kg in snatch. “A shoulder issue troubled during snatch… My target is to do 320kg in the Asian championship.”

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Rapid strides

The Aizawl boy, who follows some techniques of his idol London Olympics 77kg gold medallist Chinese lifter Lu Xiaojun in snatch, does not take pressure though. Whenever he feels low, he reads the Bible or listens to Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber to get back his composure. National coach Vijay Sharma says Jeremy should use Tokyo to get a hang of the Olympics before approaching the 2024 Games as an experienced man.

“I never thought I would be part of Olympic qualifiers. The improvements have been rapid. My aim is not just to qualify for (Tokyo) Olympics, but to try for a medal. My training and diet plan will change. There is a 110 per cent chance of improvement. If I fight for it, who knows what will happen?" Jeremy signed off with optimism.

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