Former weightlifter Manikyalu talks COVID-19 challenges

Visakhapatnam-based M.V. Manikyalu feels it is going to be extremely difficult for weightlifters once they are back in action in the post-pandemic world.

Former Olympian and weightlifter M.V. Manikyalu feels any break in training schedule is not ideal for athletes.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


Former Olympian and weightlifter M.V. Manikyalu feels any break in training schedule is not ideal for athletes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no sporting action for close to four months.

“It is extremely difficult for both the athletes and the coaches to ensure their trainees perform at the desired levels whenever the competition starts,” says the champion weightlifter from Visakhapatnam in a chat with Sportstar.

“Even weightlifters will find it very tough to handle the pressure of expectations once they are back in the circuit for they have not been doing the kind of training expected of them for obvious reasons during the pandemic,” he explains.

The 64-year-old, who was the first from the then Andhra Pradesh to win Commonwealth championship weightlifting gold (in 1985 in New Zealand), says he is in no mood to take up serious coaching in the current scenario.

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“The younger crop is so used to short-cuts for success that it is not easy for someone like me to be the coach. They are used to certain means which we avoided during our days. And, it is very expensive also as each weightlifter now needs at least Rs 20,000 for diet and nutrition supplements alone,” he adds.

“In our days, we kept a safe distance from these things. We will pay a heavy price if we fail to put in place a scientific coaching system and not preferring an Indian coach with a long-term plan,” the former Sports Officer of Vizag Port Trust says.

For someone who invariably finished in the top three in the 52 kg category in the senior nationals for close to a decade, Manikyalu says Indian weightlifters will find it increasingly difficult to win medals in future because of WADA’s strict monitoring mechanism.

“These random tests by WADA have certainly instilled a sense of fear and deters the weightlifters from even thinking of preferring short-cut methods,” he says.

Manikyalu is grateful to the Andhra Pradesh Government for allotting him 500 square yards of house site in Visakhapatnam.

“I am only thinking of setting up a gym and I will submit the proposal soon to the authorities. If that materialises, I wish to stay in touch with the sport which gave me everything in life,” he says.

Referring to his Olympics debut in the 1984 edition, Manikyalu says there was no such planning leading to the big event. “I never thought I would ever represent India in Olympics. When I joined the national camp my ranking was No. 31 and when the selections were held I was No. 2. But even then, at the insistence of a section from North India, fresh selections were called for. After stiff resistance, I was given the go ahead to be part of the Olympic contingent,” he recalls.

“It was a forgetful Olympics for I couldn’t cope with the high standard of competition and failed to acclimatise to the conditions in Los Angeles. I couldn’t get any place, it was very disappointing for sure,” says Manikyalu who didn’t get any award in his career.

“We need more academies across Andhra Pradesh to produce weightlifters. We should tap the talent from school level itself," he concludes.