The Indian Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) hopes of winning qualification berths for the 2016 Rio Olympics virtually ended as the national team failed to impress in the just-concluded world championships held in Houston, US.
After winning a bagful of medals in the Commonwealth lifting championships held at Pune in October, the country’s top lifters were expected to add more weight to the barbells. But they were unimpressive in the November 20-26 meet.
India’s chances to excel at the world meet were affected by lifters testing positive. This hit the federation hard in the buildup to the Houston event. From June to October, at least seven top lifters, including two men, had failed dope tests.
The positive tests drained the overall strength of the contingent as India could field only six male competitors and four women. Each nation is allowed to field eight male competitors and seven women lifters.
Houston was the second global qualification event where Indian lifters weren’t able to improve their rankings. At the 2014 world championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the Indian contingent had failed to mount the podium in either group. Thus, they weren’t able to collect valuable points.
As per the Rio qualification rules of the world governing body, the results of the best six athletes are taken into consideration for team classification, which is decided according to positions earned in the 2014 and 2015 world championships. Only the top 24 ranked men and top 21 women in these two meets get berths for the Rio Games. Rankings, team as well as individual, also help earn quota places.
Going by the overall performances in these two global meets, the chances of winning quota places from the next year’s Asian meet, the last opportunity to qualify, look bleak.
In Houston, India’s best bet in the men’s 56kg—Sukhen Dey--- finished 26th while his junior teammate Jamjang Deru was 20th. Deepak Lather was 42nd in 62kg while Papaul Changmai finished 37th in 69kg. National champion in 77kg, Satish Kumar Sivalingam, didn’t complete. He participated in snatch but missed the clean and jerk event.
In the women’s 48kg, Mirabhai Chanu finished ninth and Sanjita Chanu 14th, but their overall ranking wasn’t good enough to fetch them a Rio berth. Same was the fate of other competitors.