Khelo India University Games: Maiden podium finish for weightlifter Tamilselvan

Tamilselvan, at 18, was the youngest lifter in the men's 81kg category, with all of his opponents at least two years older than him.

Tamilselvan (R) poses with his father after winning the bronze medal in the men's 81kg category.   -  Shyam Vasudevan

Tamil Nadu weightlifter Tamilselvan V's wait for a maiden podium finish came to an end on Thursday as he claimed the bronze medal in the men's 81kg category at the Khelo India University Games.

Under the watchful eyes of his father and coach L. Vinayagamoorthy, a former national-level weightlifting silver-medallist himself, Tamilselvan lifted a combined total of 264 (110+145) to take home his first medal in 10 events. Creditably, at 18, he was the youngest lifter in the event, with all of his opponents at least two years older than him.

“It feels great to finally have my first medal. My hard work has paid off and this will serve as a huge boost to me,” said Tamilselvan, who is pursuing a BA degree in History from Thiruvalluvar University in Vellore.

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When asked if he grew up wanting to follow his father's footsteps, he said, “I have actually never seen any videos of my father weightlifting. I have only seen a few photos. I joined the gym just to stay fit, and it just so happened that I found my calling in weightlifting.”

While father-son squabbles are common, especially when they work as coach and son, the youngster says the two of them share an indomitable bond. “My father has been a pillar of support. He has never put pressure on me and has been very patient with me throughout, even at times when I struggled.”

Vinayagamoorthy, who is currently a Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu coach at Vellore, adds, “He took it up as a hobby, but has been seriously lifting only over the last year. Now that he has finally won a medal, you can expect a lot more from him.”