KARNAM MALLESWARI

Bronze: Weightlifting, women’s 69 kg; Sydney 2000.

Karnam Malleswari... Bronze in weightlifting, women’s 69 kg; Sydney 2000.   -  AP

Malleswari carried the expectations of millions of Indians on her powerful shoulders at the Millennium Olympics quite admirably. Her bronze in weightlifting (women’s 69 kg) was the only medal India won in Sydney.

Like the strong woman from the little-known Andhra town of Amudalavasala, women’s weightlifting too was making its debut at the Olympic Games. Malleswari, who had won two bronze and two gold medals in the 54 kg category in successive World championships, from 1993 to 1996, lifted 240 kg to win the bronze in Sydney, behind China’s Lin Weining (gold) and Hungary’s Erzsebet Markus (silver), who both lifted 242.5.

The decision to go for 137.5 kg on her last attempt in clean & jerk, according to Malleswari, proved costly for her. She could have won the gold had she settled for 132.5 kg, she said. The bronze, however, was the first Olympic medal by an Indian woman.