Indian weightlifters ended their campaign in the 19th Commonwealth Games here in the Capital on a disappointing note, winning just eight medals, out of which only two were gold, at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium sports complex.
Indian strongmen, who bagged nine medals (3 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze) in this sporting discipline in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games fell one short this time.
They were expected to better their performance, especially competing on the home turf, by at least clinching 10 medals -- five to six of those gold but they could not live up to the expectations.
The only consolation for the Indian contingent came in the form that weightlifting this time could be dope-free.
Analysing the performance of the Indian team after the conclusion of the event, national weightlifting coach Harnam Singh said that the lifters achieved 80 per cent success.
"Our main aim was to keep it dope-free and we succeeded in that front. But on the field we could not execute the performance of our training the way we would have liked to."
Before the start of the tournament, Singh sounded confident that India would at least double, if not more, the gold tally of the 2006 Games. "We are sure to win over 10 medals in New Delhi. I cannot say that all will be gold, but we should have at least five to six gold medals among these," he had said before the start of the tournament.
But after the competition, Harnam was on the defensive.
"It was a tough competition and we were fighting neck-to-neck with other opponents," said the coach.
When the lifters were asked the reason for not being able to perform up to the mark, they also admitted that the competition was tough and lifters of some countries sprang up major surprises.
"The competition was very tough. Moreover, there were lifters from countries like Nigeria, Nauru, Samoa, Cameroon, etc, who never used to pose such huge challenge in the past, but this time they also gave a tough fight to us," L Monica Devi said.
Even Srinivasa Rao, the bronze medallist in men's 56-kg category, also echoed the same sentiments but added that Indian lifters also got unlucky in more than one occasion.
"Initially we were definitely targeting at least 12 medals on the home ground, but we fell short. Yet I would say that we did not perform too badly. At times we were plain unlucky. Some of us failed to make it to the podium due to greater body weight, etc," he said.
The coach added that Nigeria turned out to be the 'dark horse'.
"Nigerians were not there in last Games at Melbourne. They had been training for the last 2 years but we had not seen them. So, we did not know what was in store in their camp. We couldn't anticipate their strengths or what they had to offer."
Nigeria took claimed medals, three of which were gold.
Apart from Nigeria, the lifters from Nauru, Cameroon and Samoa also did very well, making it to the podium number of times in the last eight days.
It was only Ravi Kumar (men's 69kg) and Renu Bala Chanu (women's 58kg) who could win gold for India, while both Soniya Chanu (women's 48kg) and Sukhen Dey (men's 56kg) took silver. Bronze was bagged by Sandhaya Rani Devi (women's 48kg), Monika Devi (women's 75kg), CPR Sudhir Kumar (men's 77kg) and Srinivasa Rao (men's 66kg).
While, Rustam Sarang (men's 62kg), Swati Singh (women's 53 kg), Chandrakant Mali (men's 85kg) and Geeta Rani (women's 75+ kg) all finished fourth, Omkar Otari (men's 62kg) finished fifth to miss the medals by whiskers. It was only Sarabjit in the 105+kg men's category who could not finish the competition as he failed in all his three attempts in clean and jerk.
And owing to their consistent performance during the competition, the Indian team got the Trafalcar trophy as the team earned maximum points by managing to finish in the top rung even when they missed out on medals.
This is an award given by the International Weightlifting Federation and in the last Games Australia won it.
"We fell at least three medals short. Gold medal prospect Soniya Chanu missed out on the yellow metal, while Chandrakant lost out on the basis of body weight and Swati Singh got injured. As for Sarabjit, he simply failed to execute. So, to an extent, it was unfortunate for us," said Harnam Singh, adding, "The competition though gave us a star in Ravi Kumar."
The gold medallist in Women's 58kg Renu Bala Chanu also added that that it was 'bad luck on more than one occasion that did India in'.
When asked about what the Indian lifters need to do to overcome the challenge posed by these upcoming lifters from countries like Nauru, Samoa, Cameroon, Nigeria etc, both Monika and Rao emphasised on getting better "sports medicine".
Explaining the term sports medicine, Monika said, "A medical team analyse each and every lifter individually and tell him/her what exactly he/she needs in terms of food, the kind of supplements, etc. But in India, unlike other countries, we do not have this thing in place yet."
Rao added, "There is no problem as far as our training is concerned. We are getting the best training and facilities, but I guess it is just the lack of food supplements that is affecting our performances."
On whether the Indian Weightlifting Federation is doing something about this 'sports medicine', the lifters said that they were planning to talk to the federation about it.
"We are planning to talk to the concerned people and the federation about our requirements as power-games like weightlifting need sports medicine these days," said Rao.
Meanwhile, Renu Bala Chanu said that she would now want to focus on the upcoming events like Asian Games and 2012 London Olympics. "I am concentrating on the Asian Games in China and have also started preparing for the London Olympics," said Renu Bala.