Indian weightlifters bagged more medals, but slipped on the gold count at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Four years ago, India won nine medals, including five golds, in Gold Coast, whereas this time it is 10 medals, including three golds, in Birmingham to retain its number one position.
The overall performance was on expected lines, with the men contributing seven medals.
The women lifters returned only one gold by Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu (49kg), a silver by Bindyarani Devi (55kg) and a surprise bronze by Harjinder Kaur (71kg).
Mirabai’s victory was a foregone conclusion. Even though she could not achieve her target of touching the 90kg mark in snatch, it was heartening to see the ace lifter equalling her personal best of 88kg and getting a total (201kg) closer to her Olympics mark. It puts her preparations for the World championships on the right track.
“The women lifters performed as per my expectations. Everybody showed improved performance,” chief National coach Vijay Sharma told The Hindu.
The biggest disappointment in the women’s section was Punam Yadav, who was eyeing a third consecutive Games medal, in the 76kg.
According to sources, Punam clearly had knee issues during the Khelo India-ranking event in Himachal Pradesh in June. She left for Birmingham on July 26, a month after the rest of the squad.
Even though the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) top brass reportedly blamed the lifter’s injury for her failure, Sharma said, “We had no option as the qualification was by name.”
| Photo Credit: PTI
Jeremy Lalrinnunga and Achinta Sheuli’s gold medals in 67kg and 73kg were the high points among men’s performances. Both aggregated below their personal best marks, but gave India two important medals and showed promise for the future.
The two friends will now clash in the 73kg in their attempt to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
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“Both will stay at 73kg until the Olympic qualifiers. When athletes push each other, you have a healthy competition,” said Sharma.
Sanket Sargar, who landed a silver in 55kg, missed out on a gold due to the hand injury he picked up during the competition.
Commonwealth championship gold medallist Ajay Singh, who was a medal contender, narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the 81kg class.
Sharma said the focus would now be on finding young talent and grooming them for big events.