Weightlifter Y Renu Bala Chanu will in all probability not defend her 58kg title at the 2014 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Glasgow.
Chanu’s kidneys stopped functioning properly after her gold at the 2010 CWG, and chances of a comeback at the international level look bleak. “I am not fit,” she told HT from Guwahati.
Chanu, 26, said immediately after the win in 2010, she fell ill. Her health kept deteriorating and that has kept her away from the sport. “I was hospitalised for nearly eight weeks and it was a big setback,” she said.
If she is to be believed, Chanu consumed creatine (a food supplement) during the buildup to the 2010 CWG and ignored the water balance in the body, resulting in ill health. “I was too focused on training and overlooked the side-effects of the food supplements, and that triggered my downfall,” she said. As a result, the lifter, who hails from Manipur, missed the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.
Coach Hansa Sharma, who trained Chanu when she was at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) centre of excellence in Lucknow for several years before the lifter rose to national prominence, could not throw light on Chanu’s prolonged absence. “Since I didn’t train her in 2010, I can’t say what went wrong,” she said.
Even those who were with Chanu at the national camp in 2010 are tight-lipped on whether an overdose of creatine or a banned substance has affected Chanu’s vital organs.
“I don’t know much about Chanu’s health,” said Kunjarani Devi, former international and coach with the national team.
Whatever might be the case, health issues have curbed a glorious career. Chanu set a national record at the 2007 National Games in Guwahati, and she went on to defend her 58kg title at the 2010 CWG. She set a Games record in snatch with a lift of 90 kg in her final attempt, and the lift of 197kg fetched her gold.
At a time when the sports ministry has expressed concern over the preparations for next year’s Commonwealth and Asian Games, Chanu’s absence from the national team will hurt the country’s prospects. “There is no lifter of her caliber in the camp right now,” said an Indian Weightlifting Federation official.