After being crowned the IWF Junior World Champion in weightlifting in Mexico, 17-year-old S. Gurunaidu is already targetting the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Honestly, the first thing my coaches told me after winning the Junior World title (55 kg) yesterday was that it was too small an achievement and that I should aim for gold in the Commonwealth and the Asian Games,” Gurunaidu told Sportstar from Mexico.

Gurunaidu faced acute hardships, struggling even to raise funds for a proper diet to continue his passion in the sport when he first started training seriously in Chandrampeta in Nellimarla mandal of Vizianagaram district (Andhra Pradesh).

“Yes, those were tough times. Fortunately, my parents – Ramaswamy and Papayyamma (both agriculture labour) – never discouraged me. My elder brothers Kamunaidu and Ramakrishna somehow managed to ensure that I didn’t leave the sport. But there was never a day when I thought I should quit the sport for want of support. I thank my parents for believing in me,” he said.

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“Thanks to my first coach Challa Ramu, I went on to win four gold [medals] – one in the Junior National and three in the Youth Nationals, and that really gave me confidence to look ahead.

“But once I got selected to the Boys Sports Company (BSC) in Secunderabad in 2017, the major issue of diet was taken care of and I could focus more on the sport. I owe a lot to my coach Deva Kumar Sir in the BSC. He is everything to me. And, when I joined the national camp on May 11 this year, the three coaches including Olympian Sathish Sivalingam gave me invaluable tips to be a much better weightlifter,” Gurunaidu said.

Like many, one of the first things he did after winning the world title was to call his parents, and the message from them was typical of those who sacrifice so much for the kids – now it is time to look for bigger feats like winning medals in Olympics.

“Yes, that is the ultimate goal. I may sound overconfident but I am not complacent and will work really hard to see that big day of winning an Olympic medal,” he signed off.