Karnam Malleswari: 'I want to see a few of my trainees win Olympic medals'

Weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, who clinched bronze in the Sydney Olympics, is still chasing her dream - to set up a weightlifting academy in Andhra Pradesh.

It is exactly two decades since weightlifter Karnam Malleswari clinched a historic bronze in the Sydney Games, becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win an Olympic medal.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

It is exactly two decades since weightlifter Karnam Malleswari clinched a historic bronze in the Sydney Games, becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win an Olympic medal.

And, it is eight years since the weightlifting great from the relatively obscure town of Amudalavalasa of Srikakulam quit the sport. But she is still chasing her dream - to set up a weightlifting academy in Andhra Pradesh.

The 45-year-old Malleswari says that despite her best efforts for quite a few years she was not getting support to set up the Academy.

READ: All athletes must undergo selection trials, says Malleswari

“I don’t know the exact reasons but somehow things never really moved in the right direction. Sometime ago, I did tour extensively the North Coastal Andhra belt (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam) which is a very strong belt for weightlifting. In fact, I had even identified some of the best young prospects (boys and girls). But, no further headway was possible in realising my dream,” explained the Chief General Manager (FCI) in a chat with Sportstar, a day after celebrating her birthday.

“I sincerely believe that there are lots of talented boys and girls willing to look to weightlifting as a sporting career. But, they lack the support. This is the reason why I am very keen to set up an Academy,” said Malleswari, who is incidentally running her own Academy in Yamunagar for the last three years.

India's Karnam Malleswari displays the bronze medal that she won in the women's 69 kg division weightlifting event at the Sydney Olympics 2000 on arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on October 4, 2000.   -  R.V. Moorthy

 

“I want to see a few of my trainees win Olympic medals, preferably gold which I couldn’t win,” she said with a big smile.

“I will be meeting AP Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy gaaru to explain to him my Academy plans and I am sure there would be a positive response,” she said.

What exactly is the two-time world champion’s advice to weightlifters during the lockdown?  “They need psychological support to avoid the mental fatigue. There is no need to get depressed. They have to stay positive. Individual training will be an integral part of any programme henceforth given the Covid-19 guidelines,” says the champion weightlifter.

READ: Karnam Malleswari - India’s saving grace in Sydney

“Definitely, the training methods are bound to change. Earlier at least four to five used to train on one set. Now only one can be allowed given the norms. But again this should not be an issue,” she stated.

“I don’t think there is any urgent need to think of any kid of selections for any international events when the Olympics itself got postponed. The positive side of the Games being postponed is it gave lot more time for the contenders to prepare in a much better manner despite the pandemic,” Malleswari felt.

How does she visualise her role in the preparations of weightlifters? “Being on so many panels of the Government, I am conscious of the needs, demands and challenges of athletes and I am contributing in my own way for their success,” she said.

On the making of a biopic on her illustrious career, a smiling Malleshwari says there is no way she is going to act in the movie but is glad about the whole concept and wishes it would be an inspiration for all those boys and girls in remote villages aspiring to become big in the world of sport.

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