Indian weightlifters, led by Mirabai Chanu, will look to find their rhythm as they kick off their preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics with the first qualifying event - the World Championships, starting here on Monday.
Olympic silver medallist Chanu, Commonwealth Games medallists S. Bindiyarani Devi (59kg), Achinta Sheuli (73kg) and Gurdeep Singh (+109kg) will all be in action for the first time since the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in August as they aim to collect the required ranking points to qualify for the Paris Games.
While Chanu, a former world champion, is not expected to test her limits in this event, head coach Vijay Sharma wants the other lifters to rise to the occasion and outdo themselves in at least one category.
“My expectation for this tournament is that apart from Mira, everyone should try and get a personal best in one of the three categories. That will show improvement and will help them in their qualification.
“For Mira, we will try to get 200+ total in every qualifying event so that we qualify for the Olympics,” Sharma told PTI.
Chanu has a personal best of 207kg (88kg+119kg). She has been trying to breach the 90kg mark in the snatch category since 2020.
However, with the Olympics still a long way to go and the Asian Games scheduled in September, the Manipuri, who struggles with a back issue that affects her snatch, might not risk lifting 90kg at the marquee event.
“To regularly overload is not prudent. A 200kg+ total weight will comfortably lead to qualification so we are not going to take much pressure in this event,” a confident Sharma added.
Currently, Chanu is the top-ranked lifter in the 49kg category. However, all 11 lifters in the category have logged in with starting weights of 200 or above, the highest (205kg) belonging to the two Chinese lifters - Tokyo Olympic champion Hou Zhihui and Jiang Huihua.
Meanwhile, Bindiyarani, who won a silver at the CWG in the 55kg event, will be moving up to 59kg. And while she has the strength, the team is working on improving her technique for better results.
“Her technique is not that great, we have to work on that first. She has the strength but the technique is poor,” Sharma said.
Bindiyarani has been put in the D category based on her entry weight.
CWG champion Sheuli (77kg), bronze medallist Gurdeep (+109kg) and Rishiskanata have been assigned the C category in their respective events and have no realistic chance of winning a medal.
The strongest weightlifters in the world will gather in Bogota for the prestigious event.
The 2022 World Championships are the first qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where weightlifting events will be cut from 14 at Tokyo Games to 10.
However, it is an additional event and not a compulsory one.
Under the 2024 Olympic qualification rule, a lifter has to compulsorily compete in the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 World Cup.
Apart from the above, the lifter also has to participate in three of the following events - the 2022 World Championships, 2023 Continental Championships, the 2023 Grand Prix 1, the 2023 Grand Prix II and the 2024 Continental Championships.
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