CWG 2022: Led by Mirabai Chanu, lifters look to start India’s medal run in style | Commonwealth Games 2022 News

NEW DELHI: It won’t be an exaggeration to label Indian weightlifters as Commonwealth bullies. They don’t just win medals; they steamroll their opponents. Sample this: the reigning CWG champion, Mirabai Chanu’s next-best placed rival, Nigeria’s Stella Kingsley’s best lift to date is just 168kg (72kg snatch+96kg clean & jerk), when compared to the Indian’s colossal personal best of 207kg (88kg+119kg).
The country’s weightlifters have been the second-biggest contributor – after shooting (135 medals) – to India’s medal haul at the CWG since the sport’s inclusion in the quadrennial meet at the Auckland edition in 1950, with 43 gold, 48 silver and 34 bronze and an overall tally of 125. India had finished on top of the medals tally in weightlifting at the Gold Coast Games in 2018, bringing home five gold, two silver and an equal number of bronze medals.
Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai will headline India’s 15-member weightlifting contingent, which will contest in 14 different categories at the Games. Mirabai (49kg) will be in action on the opening day of the weightlifting competitions at the NEC Arena on Saturday, along with debutant Bindyarani Devi in the women’s 55kg category. Bindyarani had won the clean and jerk gold at the women’s Worlds in Tashkent in December last year, apart from a silver at the Commonwealth meet which were being held concurrently.

But it will be the men’s duo of Sanket Sargar (55kg) and Gururaja Poojary (61kg), who would go first-up in the morning session to launch the country’s bid for gold medal rush in Birmingham. Guru -raja is a 2018 edition bronze medallist but he will have his task cut out against Gold Coast CWG champion (62kg), Malaysia’s Muhammad Aznil bin Bidin, who had bested the Indian at the 2021 Tashkent C’wealth Championships with an overall effort of 273kg, eight kgs more than Gururaja’s 265kg.
For the 21-year-old Sanket, his build-up to the CWG has been excellent. He broke the Common -wealth and National record in the men’s 55kg cate -gory during his gold-winning campaign at the Singapore weightlifting meet, where he had lifted a total of 256kg (113kg snatch+143kg C&J).
But all eyes will be on former world champion Mirabai to complete the hattrick of CWG medals, after her silver (2014) and gold (2018) in the previous editions. The diminutive Manipuri weightlifter looks all set to lead India’s medal march at the CWG. For Mirabai, defending her title in Birmingham won’t be a problem, as she holds both the Commonwealth (CR) and the Games record (GR) in snatch and clean & jerk.
After the CWG, she has set her sights on the only prize missing from her glittering trophy cabinet – a medal at the Asian Games – and, of course, a gold finish in Paris 2024.
Indians are expected to face stiff competition from the Nigerian and Malaysian weightlifters, but the country’s weightlifting squad is brimming with new talent and experienced campaigners, who have the wherewithal to finish on the podium on their day. Youth Olympics gold medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg) would fancy his chances for a gold after his nearest rival and a favourite, Pakistan’s Talha Talib, was sanctioned for failing a dope test.
Junior world championship silver medallist Achinta Sheuli (73kg) is coming to the Games on the back of his personal best lift of 316kg (143kg+173kg). Similarly, previous CWG medallists, Vikas Thakur (96kg) and Punam Yadav (76kg), will be looking to upgrade to gold after missing out on top of the podium finish in both 2014 and 2018 editions of the Games.

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