Odisha chalks out plan for weightlifting grassroots development

After hockey and athletics, the Odisha government is planning to develop a grassroots development system for weightlifting in the state.

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The Odisha government seems to have taken the tag of being the sports capital of India quite seriously. While hosting big-ticket events is one aspect of it, the government has also tied up with several organisations and corporates to promote sports at the grassroots.

Setting up High Performance Centres across the state is part of the same with the new weightlifting HPC, in association with Anil Kumble-promoted TENVIC, being one of them. The centre, sponsored by KJS Ahluwalia Group and situated within the KIIT campus in Bhubaneswar, currently has 12 girls and nine boys training under Iranian-British coach Kazem Punjavi.

“Odisha has been performing well in weightlifting and we have good potential to create medal winning international lifters, so the state government decided to give priority to weightlifting and provide a proper training arena. There will be scouting for a second set of trainees soon across multiple centres in the state,” Odisha sports director Vineel Krishna told Sportstar.

While the government provides the infrastructure – there are plans to move out to a bigger centre in the coming months with more equipment, better facilities and increased lifters -- TENVIC takes care of the rest.

“We take care of their accommodation, food, diet and coaching. We also handle procurement of stuff like weights, jerseys etc. At the same time, we understand that only lifting weights all day can be stressful and tiring, both physically and mentally and try to ensure they have other interests to relax. TENVIC would also be taking care of their education and most of them would be admitted to schools and colleges by the end of June,” TENVIC’s scouting in charge Soumya Mitra explained.

The centre, which was inaugurated in February, is still in its infancy but Punjavi has his programme chalked out. Here on a three-year contract and previously with the British national team, Punjavi has prepared an individual training and diet chart prepared for every lifter depending on his/her weight category, potential and weaknesses.

“The youngest girls here are 10 (Tiki Mohini) and 12 (Thulsi Sahu) so these will be at the next Commonwealth Youth Games. Most of them are 15-16 years and are quite strong at the junior level with plans to compete at the Junior Nationals and we hope some of them would make the cut for the national side,” he said.

The only thing missing, he rued, is enough lifters. “While the initial phase of training focussed on building strength and fitness, the next would be tougher, concentrating on techniques and conditioning. I want more lifters to train. I am losing time and I want results,” he reiterated.