By Vishank Razdan
Jeremy Lalrinnunga has a promising future in weightlifting, with historic gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games,Â he is ready to explode and he is still just 16 years old.
Over the years, Indian weightlifting has seen its highs and lows. However, the proportion of lows has dominated the highs. Be it performances in World level events after retirement of Karnam Malleshwari (Indiaâ€™s firstÂ female Olympic medalist) and Kunjarani Devi, or be it several doping scandals, we have never been the powerhouse we could have potentially become. The performances of male weightlifters had been equally bad, if not worse in the world level tournaments with injury plaguing careers of prominent weightlifters like Ravi Kumar and Satish Sivalingam.
In the 2016 Olympics, we had only one representative each in male and female category. While Satish Sivalingam finished eleventh out of fourteen participating lifters in menâ€™s 77kg category, Mirabai Chanu could not successfully lift any of her Clean and Jerk attempts in womenâ€™s 48kg category, which again was testament of Indiaâ€™s poor performance in weightlifting arena come world level events.
The same year, weightlifting world youth championships were held in Penang, Malaysia. India yet again had entered some participants but not a lot was expected as usual given the history of Indian lifters in such competitions and their entry weights.
But, what happened next was like a rags to riches story, a story which would add a golden chapter in the history of Indian weightlifting. Indiaâ€™s Jeremy Lalrinnunga, who back then was just couple of weeks away from celebrating his 14thÂ birthday, gave himself a huge and an unexpected birthday present by winning a silver medal in under 56kg weight division of the championships. In the snatch category, he lifted almost twice his body weight with a successful lift of 108 kg and a totaled effort of 235 kg was good enough for him to win a silver medal. His performance inspired his Indian teammate Raja Muthupandi to a brilliant bronze medal in the same weight category at the championships.
Those who follow the sports keenly would know how important this medal was especially after the nightmare of Rio Olympics. This medal would set a basis for a new found enthusiasm among Indian weightlifters.
However, as it is quite often seen with Indian athletes, historically many of them have turned out to be just â€˜one day wondersâ€™ and generally their careers as sportspersons meets a sad end with lack of consistency and pressure of performing at big stage. Achieving a feat makes you good but repeating that makes you great and that is where the real test lies and boy, Jeremy passed this test with flying colors with yet another silver medal in the same weight division of 56 kg at 2017 world youth championships with a combined effort of 240 kg.
This accompanied a series of silver and bronze medal winning performances at the continental level in youth and junior division which yet again was a stamp of authority of his potential. But what was missing from his cabinet was a world level Gold medal which every athlete dreams of.
And, 2018 proved to be the landmark year where he would fill this void. At the 2018 Youth Olympics, participating in 62 kg weight category, this boy from Mizoram would script his name in the history books with a combined total of 274 kg (124 kg in Snatch and 150 kg in Clean and Jerk) to win Indiaâ€™s first-ever gold medal at the Youth Olympics and more astonishing is the fact that the boy is still just 16 years old. In Jeremy, we have got a potential world beater who can win medals for us at the world championships and possibly at the Olympics.
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Little bit of guidance, planning his burden as far as participation in competitions is concerned and keeping him in a good environment at this stage will transform this boy into a world class athlete come 2020.
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Source: Matchday Frolics